A woman uses an inhaler to treat asthma, which may be caused by her allergies.

A woman holds up her inhaler, which she uses to treat allergy-related asthma.

Allergies can make it hard to breathe. So can asthma. It may seem like these are two unrelated conditions, but in fact, treating allergies can actually help with asthma.

There are two kinds of asthma: intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic asthma is caused by external sources, such as allergens like pollen, dust, and mold. It is estimated that more than half – even as many as 70 percent – of the cases of asthma in the United States are caused by allergic reactions. It is not clear why some people with allergies have asthmatic responses and some don’t.

CEENTA otolaryngoligst Gregory Parsons, MD

How are allergies and asthma related?

When your body creates antibodies to protect you from an allergen, they create histamines that cause an allergic response. If they are in your lungs and airway, they can inflame and constrict the bronchial tubes. This can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Conversely, treating allergies can help reduce asthma symptoms.

“I can tell you from personal experience that many people with mild asthma see it completely clear up if they have their allergies treated,” CEENTA ENT doctor Gregory Parsons, MD, said.

How can I treat my allergies?

Before getting treated for allergies, you need to know exactly what you’re allergic to. The doctors at CEENTA will test you to determine exactly which substances you’re allergic to. They will then come up with a treatment plan best suited to your needs.

A good way to reduce the chance of allergies triggering asthma is to avoid allergens. This means keeping your windows shut during high pollen periods, making sure air filters are working properly to filter out dust, and keeping your home dry so mold doesn’t grow.

A woman breathes easily after treating her allergies.

Over-the-counter medicines, such as Flonase, Rhinocort, and Nasocort can help treat allergies. Rinsing your nose with saline after exposure to an allergen can help decrease your response, too. Antihistamines such as Claritin, Allegra, and Zirtec also help.

If you have severe allergies, immunotherapy may help. Immunotherapy is a series of shots, drops, or tablets that are used to build up the immune system to increase tolerance to allergens. In some cases, they can even cure an allergy.

Of course, you must not stop taking any inhalers or other asthma medication your asthma doctor prescribes before first discussing it with your doctor.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. If you have allergies and asthma and would like to make an appointment with Dr. Parsons or any of CEENTA’s allergy specialists, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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