Allergic Asthma Overview
Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma there is. Approximately 60 percent of asthma patients have allergic asthma, a type of asthma in which an allergic trigger can lead to asthma attacks and symptoms.
As allergens are everywhere, it is important to be aware of the allergy and the asthma trigger. People with allergic asthma are hypersensitive to particular allergens. Once exposed to these allergens, their immune system overreacts. Muscles surrounding the airways contract (called bronchospasm). In addition, an inflammation and production of mucus occurs in the airways.
Patients with allergic asthma often have the same symptoms as patients with nonallergic asthma. They include:
- Chest contraction
- Fast breathing
- Shortness of breath
Read more in this allergic asthma patient education guide.Show All
Doctors Who Treat Allergic Asthma
As your allergic asthma is diagnosed, treated and managed, you may encounter the following team of doctors and specialists listed in this patient education guide. Having a team of doctors or specialists with varied expertise will more accurately help diagnose the possibility of having allergic asthma.
Family Physician – Doctor with internal medicine practice. Primary care physicians help in the initial diagnosis and treatment.
Allergist – An internist who has taken additional training as a specialist in allergy and immunology. An allergist specializes in allergies, asthma, and allergic asthma.
Pulmonologist – A specialist in respiratory diseases. Some pulmonologists may get additional board certification in critical-care medicine.
Pediatrician – A medical practitioner specializing in children and their diseases. Over 2.5 million children under age 18 suffer from allergic asthma.
How to Prepare for Your Asthma Doctor Visit
It is very important to follow certain steps to get maximum benefit from your healthcare provider. And in turn it will help doctor to determine severity of asthma or rule out any other possible condition.
- Write down all symptoms, including any other signs in the body unrelated to purpose of visit.
- Write down any noticeable allergens or patterns that are triggering asthma. For kids, it is useful for parents to share their observations that parents with the provider.
- Note down duration, specific time or triggering factors of your symptoms, if noticed.
- Write down key personal information, including any stresses or recent life changes.
- Make list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you are taking. Include the dosage, as well.
Questions to Ask About Allergic Asthma
Below is a list of questions to discuss with your doctor so you can make informed decisions about your condition.
Questions About My Diagnosis
- What are the diagnostic tests required for my condition?
- Why I am very sensitive to this particular allergen and not others?
- What is the cause of asthma? What are the signs of emergency?
Questions About My Treatment
- Allergic asthma can be treatable?
- Do I have to be on steroids for rest of my life?
- How do I use inhaler?
- What are the medications that I have to avoid?
- What are the side effects of medications prescribed? How we can avoid those side effects?
- What are the medications that I have to carry with me all the time?
Questions About My Lifestyle and Family
- Are there certain places or foods that need to be avoided?
- Are there lifestyle habits I can change to get some asthma relief and reduce my risk of an asthma attack?
- Is asthma hereditary? Can I pass it to my children?
- Severe asthma symptoms will affect my family and work?
Common Tests Or Labs To Diagnose Allergic Asthma
Several tests and labs cab be used to make a proper diagnosis and monitor your ongoing allergic asthma condition. Below are listed the most common tests and labs ordered, why you need them, and what they can tell you about your allergic asthma.
|Test||Why Test?||What Happens?||Normal Result|
|Skin Prick Test/ Puncture/Scratch Test||checks for immediate allergic reactions to as many as 40 different substances at once||Pricking your skin with a tiny amount of the allergen||Positive test – develop a raised, red, itchy bump (wheal) that may look like a mosquito bite.|
|Complete Blood Count||To know Eosinophil count and IgE level||Regular blood test is performed; blood is drawn from venous puncture in arm||Eosinophil : 1-4%IgE – 4.2-595 U/mL|
|Sputum Sample||To rule out other chronic illness like Tuberculosis||Cough sputum into sterile specimen cup||May show casts of small airways, thick mucoid sputum|
|Pulmonary Function Tests||Measures the amount (volume) and/or speed (flow) of air that can be inhaled and exhaled in the lungs||The patient performs several hard breathes into a machine||Accurate measurement is dependent upon the patient’s performing the appropriate maneuver properly. Very difficult to perform in children.|
|Chest X-ray||Rules out any other cause of blockage/narrowing of the bronchi||This is a non-invasive test. A picture is taken of the chest and lungs.||Increased bronchial wall markings, associated with chronic inflammation and accessory muscle use.|
Common Medications and Treatments for Allergic Asthma
Determining the allergens to which you’ve become sensitized, and then taking steps to minimize your exposure to them, is likely to improve your allergic asthma control. But along with prevention of allergen, asthma medications are also required.
Long Term Daily Control Medication
This line of treatment t reduces inflammation of the airways to prevent asthma symptoms and asthma attacks.
|Inhaled Steroids||Acts directly in the breathing passage. One of the most common modes of treatment.|
|Leukotriene Modifiers||Acts on chemical substances that promote inflammatory response during acute attack. Taken orally.|
|Long Acting Beta Agonists||Long acting bronchodilator. Keeps breathing passages open for more than 12 hrs.|
|Immunodilators||Reduces inflammation by impacting a number of different places in the pathophysiology of asthma.|
|Anti – IgE Therapy||Blocks IgE in your body and may help to relieve symptoms and control asthma. It is an injection given every 2 to 4 weeks, depending on your specific IgE level in the blood.|
Quick Relief Medications
These are fast acting relief drugs for asthma symptoms, but the relief that one receives from the symptoms is for a shorter duration.
It is highly recommended to keep doctor’s instruction in mind before using these medications.
|Short-acting beta-agonists||Opens breathing passages in minutes. The effects usually last only 4 hours.|
|Anticholinergics||Takes slightly longer than beta-agonists to achieve an effect, but has longer lasting relief|