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Asthma Caused By Allergies
In some people, an asthma episode is brought on by an allergy to something in the environment. Allergies occur when the body reacts to common harmless substances that normally don’t trigger a response in another person. These substances are called allergens.
In the person with allergic asthma, a flare-up of the airways can occur when the allergen is introduced to the body. At first, reactions may be very minor, barely noticeable. But repeated exposure gradually increases sensitivity.
In an allergic reaction, certain body cells release various chemicals. In an asthma attack brought on by an allergen, these chemicals irritate the already inflamed air passages and cause the reactions that make the airways narrow and breathing difficult.
Common things that can trigger allergic asthma include tiny particles in the air derived from:
- House dust mites
- Mold (spores)
- Plants (pollen)
- Animals dander
House dust mites are extremely small organisms that live in dust and feed on skin cells that have been shed by people. Products of dust mites are a common cause of allergies. They look like very tiny insects but are actually distant cousins of spiders. House dust mites thrive in warm, damp climates and are commonly found in mattresses, pillows, bedding, carpets, and upholstered furniture.
Ways to reduce exposure to dust mites:
Dust mites cannot be entirely avoided. But you should aim to lessen your exposure to them, particularly in the bedroom:
The dried-up body parts of dead cockroaches are a very potent stimulator of asthma in those allergic to them. Regular cockroach control is essential to good control of asthma for people allergic and exposed to them. This can be a particular problem in big cities.
Mold is the greenish, gray, or black material that grows in damp places. Molds or fungi release microscopic particles called spores for their reproduction. These spores can float through open windows into the house, especially on cool nights in the spring and fall. Asthma attacks may also be triggered by the type of mold that grows in the house.
Ways to reduce exposure to molds include:
Pollen are microscopic particles released by plants for their reproduction. Pollen is more a cause of hay fever than asthma. But there are some people with allergic asthma who clearly have problems with ragweed and other typical plant pollens that can cause a flare-up in their asthma.
Make note of whether your episodes of asthma are worse when the pollen count is high.
To prevent allergic reactions due to pollens:
Many people are allergic to a substance in the saliva and on the skin of furry animals. This substance, called dander, is a powerful allergen. It gets on a dog’s or cat’s coat and is spread into the air and onto surfaces.
Dander can float through the air for hours. Cat allergen particles, for example, are only about one-tenth the size of dust mite allergen particles and can escape the filtration system on most vacuums. Cat dander can still be found in the dust of a house even months after a pet has left.
Hamsters, gerbils, mice, and rats can produce the same problem. In some individuals, fine particles on feathers may also set off an allergic reaction.
Nice To Know
Animal allergens are a potent stimulator of asthma. It is very likely that frequent asthma symptoms in someone living with a furry pet are caused by the pet.
To prevent allergic reactions due to exposure to animals:
Need To Know
Do some foods cause asthma?
Foods are rarely implicated as a cause of regular