Skip to main content
Alert icon
COVID-19 Resources Click here for details.

When Allergies & Asthma Collide, You Get Allergic Asthma

April 08, 2024
Allergies or asthma can make us feel miserable. Allergies impact over 50 million Americans while asthma affects one in 13 people. Allergies and asthma are the two most common chronic diseases in the US, and they occur together more often than many people realize. Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Many people with asthma also have allergies. In fact, allergens are the most common asthma trigger. This is called allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma. Allergic asthma is most common in early childhood and steadily decreases through adulthood. A family history of allergies is a major risk factor for allergic asthma.

An allergic reaction takes place when the immune system proteins, also known as antibodies, mistakenly identify a harmless substance. As your body tries to protect you from this substance, antibodies bind to the allergen. The chemicals released by your immune system can lead to various signs and symptoms of an allergy, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes or skin. 

What is Allergic Asthma?

Allergic asthma occurs when allergens in your environment are inhaled, and then trigger asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, tight chest, and wheezing. With allergic asthma, your airways will be super sensitive to certain allergens. Once they get into your body, it will throw your immune system into overdrive. The passages in your airways will begin to tighten and the airways will then become inflamed. Over time, these will become covered with thick mucus. The same substances that trigger allergy symptoms, such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander, may also cause asthma signs and symptoms. In some people, skin or food allergies can cause asthma symptoms.

Allison Rasnic, NP – West Tennessee Medical Group Thomsen Farms

“When allergens are inhaled into the nose or lungs, the body responds by releasing immunoglobulin E (IgE) to bind to the allergen to protect the body from ‘harm’,” says Allison Rasnic, FNP with West Tennessee Medical Group Primary Care Thomsen Farms. “The release of IgE antibodies causes immediate symptoms of an allergic reaction, including itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion, and bronchospasm which is an asthma attack. In cases of allergic asthma, allergens may cause a mild or severe inflammation of the lungs leading to increased coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.”

All asthma symptoms are not caused by allergies. While a strong connection exists, other triggers can lead to asthma attacks such as strong odors, exercise, cold air, and other respiratory infections. Many people suffering from asthma have more than one trigger. The best way to manage symptoms is to be aware of the triggers and pay close attention as they may change over time. 

While many treatments are designed to treat asthma or nasal allergies separately, there are a few treatments that can help alleviate both conditions.


Leukotriene modifier. This type of medication is often prescribed for asthma and can even help with nasal allergies. During an allergic reaction, your body releases leukotrienes, and it’s these chemicals which will inflame your airways. The pill is taken daily and helps to block the effects of these chemicals within your body to control inflammation that occurs during an allergic reaction. 

Allergy shots or immunotherapy can help by gradually reducing the immune-system response to certain allergy triggers. Immunotherapy involves getting a very small dose injection of the allergens that trigger your symptoms. Your immune system builds up a tolerance to the allergens over time and your allergic reactions diminish. In turn, asthma symptoms decrease as well. This treatment generally requires regular injections over a period of time. These shots are not designed to cure the condition, but to find a way to make your symptoms much less severe.

Anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) therapy uses medication to disrupt the action of IgE when an allergen is present. By stopping the effects of IgE, the medication prevents an allergic reaction from occurring and therefore prevents asthma symptoms. It is sometimes used in combination with allergen immunotherapy. The medication omalizumab (Xolair) interferes with IgE in the body and helps prevent the allergic reaction that triggers asthma symptoms. This treatment is used for more severe allergic asthma and helps to prevent the allergic reaction that triggers asthma symptoms.

Allergies combined with asthma can be extremely uncomfortable and even scary at times. Know the things that trigger your allergy and asthma symptoms and learn how to limit your exposure to them.  Check in with your doctor at regular intervals because allergy and asthma symptoms can change over time, and you may need to adjust your treatment accordingly. 

If you suffer from allergies, asthma or both, West Tennessee Medical Group can help. To find a provider or make an appointment at West Tennessee Medical Group a call at 1-833-383-9864.