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Allergies vs. Asthma
Allergies and asthma have more in common than you might think. An allergy is an inflammatory reaction or response to a specific substance, such as environmental triggers (pollen, dust, mold) and certain foods. Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory lung disease that causes difficulty breathing. Both involve the immune system reacting to allergens.
"With both allergies and asthma, people’s immune systems react to fight off the allergens. In people with asthma, the resulting inflammation causes the airways to become significantly narrowed," says Eric Sandberg, MD, a board-certified Allergy and Immunology specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.
Allergic reactions can include itchy, watery eyes, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and sinus headache. In severe cases, they can include hives, wheezing, or tightness in the chest.
Asthma causes inflammation in the lungs that constricts the muscles around the airways, resulting in wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
While people without allergies can have asthma, there is a connection between the two conditions. The same substances that trigger allergies can also trigger asthma attacks. However, asthma can also be triggered by smoke, strong odors, strenuous exercise, and air quality. An allergy attack itself can also trigger an asthma attack.
The allergy specialists at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic can help identify your allergy and asthma triggers and develop a plan to help you manage your condition.