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Causes of Allergic Asthma

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In order for you to truly understand the causes of allergic asthma, it is important for you to know exactly what asthma is and how allergies can affect you. Asthma attacks occur when your symptoms get worse and your airways become inflamed. An allergic asthma attack is when the attack is triggered by allergens.

What is an allergen?

Your immune system is designed to defend your body from exposure to substances that are harmful to your body. These substances are called allergens. Examples of some common allergens are:

  • Animal Hair
  • Animal Saliva
  • Animal Skin
  • Mold
  • Plant Pollen
  • Dust Mites
  • Medications
  • Foods
  • Metals
  • Latex
  • Chemicals in Perfumes, Dyes, Household Cleaning Products

Because your immune system recognizes these allergens as harmful, you develop symptoms, which creates disruption in your other bodily functions, such as coughing and sneezing, for example. When your allergens trigger this reaction in your body, you experience an allergic reaction.

What is an Allergic Reaction?

Your immune system’s job is to fight off viruses and bacteria that may enter your body. Sometimes it will respond to certain, otherwise harmless substances inappropriately. When this occurs, your body creates the chemical histamine, which sets off your allergic response. Why your body’s immune system can make that mistake is unknown.

About one out of every five people will develop allergic reactions, and it can happen at any age. In fact, you can experience a sudden allergic reaction to something that never bothered you before. Having a family history of allergies will make it more likely that you, at some point, will develop some, too.

Which Allergies Cause Asthma?

The biggest asthma triggers seem to be inhaled substances, such as:

  • Pollen
  • Dust Mites
  • Mold
  • Animal Dander, Skin, and Saliva
  • Cockroach particles

Doctors recommend that everyone with asthma or allergies to keep a substance diary. Every time you have an attack, write down whatever substances you know or believe you reacted to so you can identify and avoid your triggers.

While food allergies rarely cause asthma, it can happen, and you can experience life-threatening reactions. Write down every food that you have a reaction from, so you will remember to avoid them in the future. The most common foods that cause an allergic reaction are:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts such as Walnuts, Almonds, and Pecans
  • Cow’s milk
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shrimp and other Shellfish
  • Wheat

Preservatives in foods can also cause an allergic reaction in your body. Additives such as sodium sulfite, sodium and potassium metabisulfite, and sodium and potassium bisulfite are all potential allergens. Some of the more common foods these are found in are:

  • Pickled Foods
  • Potatoes (Some Prepared and All Packaged)
  • Dried vegetables and fruits
  • Shrimp (Frozen, Fresh, and Prepared)
  • Bottled Lemon or Lime Juice
  • Beer and Wine

If you experience a rash, hives, wheezing, or a tightening of your throat called anaphylaxis, you need to go to the emergency room immediately. The swelling that occurs with anaphylaxis can completely close your airway, making it unable for you to breathe.

If you believe you have had an asthma attack caused by any of these substances or foods, discuss it with your doctor. He or she may order allergy skin testing to determine what substances you are allergic to.

What do I do next?

Keep in contact with your doctor and take your medication as prescribed. If you have an emergency inhaler, keep it with you at all times. With some investigation and pre-planning, you can reduce or possibly even eliminate coming in contact with the allergens that cause your asthma attacks and live a healthier, happier life.

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How to Get to the Root of your Patients’ Allergy-Like Symptoms

Allergy is a very common condition that affects millions of people who are allergic to the things that they eat, breathe or touch. The problem with many people who experience allergy-like symptoms is that they rush to taking antihistamines without confirming if they have an allergy or not and what is it that they are allergic to. Others rely on free allergy screening and home test kit results to confirm their allergies. However, there are those who know the importance of seeing a doctor for their allergy-like symptoms, and when they do that, they expect you as the doctor to provide solutions to their problems.

Start with examination

Allergy –like symptoms can be caused by an allergy, several allergies or other things that are not related to allergies at all. As a doctor, you should be able to confirm an allergy suspicion, determine the responsible allergens or rule out allergy and the first thing your patient needs is not an allergy test but a doctor’s examination. The reason against relying on allergy tests alone is the risk of getting a ‘false positive’ result especially with free screening services offered by drugstores and supermarkets and home allergy testing kits. Your examination together with the medical history of your patient should confirm the suspicion of an allergy and also whether to proceed with an allergy test or not.

Making an accurate allergy diagnosis based on medical history, clinical observations and antibody testing is crucial because any wrong test can mean a waste of money and unnecessary lifestyle changes for your patient whose condition is far away from being an allergy plus the problem will not be solved in the long run.

If you suspect food allergies, you should recommend an elimination diet by identifying suspected foods causing the allergy symptoms and supervising it over a period. For the confirmation of other allergies, skin and blood allergy tests should be done.

Refer to an allergist to perform an allergy test

Doing allergy tests is usually done to know which substances are responsible for allergy symptoms. You can order either skin or blood allergy test depending on the nature of the symptoms.

Skin allergy test

If your patient exhibits allergy symptoms like the ones associated with food allergies, allergic rhinitis, asthma, skin rashes, angioedema, hives, venom and penicillin and related drugs allergy, skin tests may be done either by a prick test or intradermal skin test for venom and penicillin allergy tests. Before a skin test, you will need to prepare your patient in advance concerning the medicines that should not be taken like antihistamines because they influence the results of the allergy skin tests. Skin tests usually involve placing several suspected allergens on the skin and then the skin is pricked for the allergen to go under the skin. The skin is then watched for reaction signs for about 15-20 minutes.

Blood allergy tests

You should be able to order an allergy blood test if your patient is using antihistamines, has a severe skin condition, has a heart condition and unable to tolerate skin scratches or needles as in children. In allergy blood tests, either an ELISA test which measures the quantity of allergen-specific antibodies (IgE) in your blood or RAST test which looks for allergen-specific antibodies to identify the allergen is used.

Whatever the type of allergy test that you do on your patient, it should help you in knowing the root cause of allergy symptoms that your patient is experiencing. A negative result rules out allergy while a positive result means that the patient is allergic to that particular substance.

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