Asthma + Allergies. What’s the link?

15 May Asthma + Allergies. What’s the link?

By: Catherine Pierroti, DNP, RN, CBC, CPNP-PC

Springtime brings more sunshine, outdoor games/playing, and blooming flowers but also means more environmental allergen exposure that can flare up your child’s asthma and allergies.

How are Asthma and Allergies related?

Both are allergic (atopic) diseases, and often coexist. Children with allergic diseases develop immune responses (such as sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and skin) to common allergens such as those found in certain foods or in the environment. Common environmental allergens include: Pollen, Grasses, Animal Dander, Dust Mites, Cockroaches, Molds + Spores. 

  • When a child has both of these conditions, BOTH must be treated together. The first step in managing both allergies and asthma is allergen avoidance. 
  • In the home, avoid aerosol products, use dehumidifiers, avoid tobacco smoke exposure in home/car, control dust, keep windows closed or use AC. 
  • Washing your child’s hands often and taking a shower/bath after playing outside, or before bed, may remove outdoor allergens that remain on your child’s body/hair. 

See below for further management information!

Allergic Rhinitis (A.R) “Hay Fever”

A group of symptoms (nasal itching, nasal congestion, clear runny nose, itchy eyes, and/or sneezing) that primarily affect the nose due to allergen exposure. Symptoms can be seasonal or year round.

Common A.R. management: 

  1. Avoid specific allergen triggers.
  2. Daily over-the-counter and prescription medications include intranasal steroid sprays (Flonase or Nasacort) and oral antihistamines (Zyrtec or Benadryl). Talk to your PCP about the right medication and dosages for your child! 

Asthma, or Reactive Airway Disease (RAD)

Chronic inflammation of the airways causing symptoms (wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and cough — particularly at night and/or early morning). 

Common Asthma management

  1. Avoid specific allergen triggers. 
  2. Use your Quick Relief or “Rescue” Medication (albuterol), as prescribed, for relief of asthma symptoms. 
  3. Taking your inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) daily, as prescribed, for persistent asthma is an important way to decrease the number of severe exacerbations.

*Since every child’s asthma severity + management looks a little different, it is important to have an individualized asthma action plan in place, and regular asthma follow up appointments
with your primary care physician (every 6 months)!

Helpful websites for more information:

American Academy of Allergies, Asthma, and Immunology: Provides local pollen count and maps with pollen seasons identified.  

Asthma and Allergies Foundation of America: This site primarily focuses on asthma, but also discusses allergies. 

*Check back on Thursday for part 2 of this blog discussing our Virtual Visits  for patients with Asthma and Allergies!

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