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While many allergy sufferers are stocking up on tissue paper right now, others are reaching for the inhaler. And it may come as no surprise that these two groups overlap.


Most asthma sufferers also have allergies. In fact, about 80 percent of asthma in children and 50 percent of asthma in adults is felt to be related to allergies.

"Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames and restricts the lung’s airways. It cannot be cured, but with regular physician care, most people can control the symptoms and live active lives," says board-certified Pulmonary Medicine specialist Dr. Ali Al-Himyary.

Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing, especially at night and in the early morning. If left untreated, it can decrease physical activities and limit normal lifestyle activities. In the most severe cases, asthma can lead to death.

Fatalities are usually caused by a lack of proper medical care or the improper use of medicines. Fortunately, they are rare, and usually preventable.

"Asthma attacks may be triggered by a combination of factors including tobacco smoke, air pollutants, climate changes, infections, and allergic reactions to airborne debris such as dust, pollen and animal dander," Dr. Al-Himyary explains.

A patient’s genetic background plays a significant role, but medical treatment can help. A pulmonary specialist can prescribe an individualized and comprehensive asthma control plan.

Treatment includes oral medicines, inhalants, allergy shots and working closely with a doctor to identify and avoid asthma triggers. With proper care, athletes with asthma have been able to control their symptoms and compete in the Olympics.