Since 1984, millions of asthma- and allergy-sufferers, doctors, patients, friends, and family members have labeled May as Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month. With spring allergens running rampant in May, it seems all too appropriate! To honor this important month, we want to answer four frequently asked questions about asthma and allergies:
How do I know if I have asthma?
When allergens enter your lungs, it can trigger asthmatic symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath. These symptoms are your lungs trying to say, “Hey, something’s in here and it needs to come out!” Your muscles around your airways contract and tighten, which makes it difficult to take a deep breath. Inhalers offer quick relief, releasing medicine that allows your muscles to expand.
What risk factors contribute to asthma?
Although asthma is not curable, it can be managed. People can live a symptom-free life with asthma! However, it’s vital to know risk factors that could cause the onset of an asthma attack and what to do if you start having asthmatic symptoms. More people who live in the following conditions are more likely to deal with asthma:
- Excessive indoor allergens
- Lack of patient education
- Poor air quality
- Poor health care
What causes an allergic reaction?
Your immune system is the warrior of your body, so to speak. It fights off bacteria and germs that threaten to take over and make you sick! Sometimes, your immune system may misidentify an allergen as a threat and send the troops to flush out the intruder. There are special immune system cells that are located at entryways like your nose, eyes, and mouth. That’s why some of the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction occur in these three places!
How can allergy shots help me?
Fortunately, we can teach your immune system to not overreact when an allergen enters your body. Instead of producing over-exaggerative symptoms, your body will flush it out like it would any other germ or bacteria. By getting regular allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, your body will be introduced to the allergen in small doses. During the build-up phase, these doses increase. During the maintenance phase, we will help your immune system maintain the lesson it learned during the build-up phase.