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Do Allergies Cause Asthma?

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People who have certain kinds of allergies are more likely to have asthma. Do you have allergies that affect your nose and eyes, causing stuff like a runny nose or red, itchy eyes? If so, you're more likely to have asthma, too. Whatever causes the allergic reaction, such as pollen or dust, can also trigger asthma symptoms.

What Happens During an Asthma Flare-Up?

But not everyone who has allergies gets asthma, and not all asthma happens because of allergies. Huh? Allergies and asthma can be a little confusing, so let's find out more.

About 7 million kids in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma. Of these, about three out of four have asthma symptoms that are triggered by an allergy to something (called an allergen). In these people, the symptoms of asthma like wheezing, coughing, or trouble breathing are often brought on by being around allergens.

Allergies have a lot to do with your immune (say: ih-myoon) system. Most of the time your immune system fights germs and bacteria to help you stay healthy. But in a kid with allergies, the immune system treats allergens (such as pollen) as if they're invading the body, like a bad germ.

When the immune system reacts to an invading allergen, the body releases substances that cause allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose or red, itchy eyes. Some kids can also get asthma symptoms, like coughing, wheezing, or a tight feeling in the chest.

If you have asthma, it is a good idea to find out whether allergies may be causing your asthma symptoms. To figure out what they're allergic to, sometimes kids will visit a special doctor called an allergist (say: ah-lur-jist).

If the allergist finds out that you are allergic to certain things, the best way to prevent allergic reactions (and to help stop asthma symptoms from bugging you) is to avoid being around those allergens. The doctor also may prescribe medicine for your allergies if you can't completely avoid what's causing them.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: October 2010

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

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