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Is Your Asthma Allergic?

Asthma image

Asthma is a chronic and potentially life-threatening lung disease in which airways become inflamed and swollen, making it hard to breathe. An estimated 20 million Americans have asthma. Of these, 10 million have allergic asthma.

Understanding Allergic Asthma
Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma. Many of the symptoms of allergic and non-allergic asthma are the same (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, and chest tightness). However, allergic asthma is triggered by inhaling allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, pollens, and mold. Through a complex reaction, these allergens then cause the passages in the airways of the lungs to become inflamed and swollen. This results in coughing, wheezing, and other asthma symptoms.

Allergic asthma is triggered by inhaling allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, pollens, and mold.

IgE, The Cause of Allergic Asthma
Allergens are identified as a key cause of allergic asthma. But the real culprit in causing allergic asthma is the IgE antibody. The body produces the IgE antibody in response to allergen exposure. The combination of the IgE antibody with allergens results in the release of potent chemicals called mediators. The mediators cause the inflammation and swelling of the airways, resulting in the symptoms of asthma. This makes the IgE antibody the root cause of allergic asthma.

Getting Diagnosed and Seeking Treatment
It is important for people with asthma to seek treatment from an asthma specialist. An asthma specialist will identify your allergic triggers and develop a plan to help you avoid these allergens. However, allergens cannot be totally avoided. Therefore, another way for you to control allergic asthma is to take a medication that binds IgE and prevents it from setting off the inflammatory response. Your doctor can provide you with more information on the treatment options that are best for you.

 

Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, www.aaaai.org

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, Winter 2010-2011.