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Allergies In Asthma: Where’s the Relief?

Posted by Mark Bubak, M.D. on Feb 17, 2017 3:36:35 PM
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Allergies In Asthma: Where’s the Relief?

It doesn’t seem fair — not only do you have asthma but you also suffer from allergy symptoms like itchy eyes and nose, plus that itchy rash in the creases of your arms and legs. While genetics play a role in your asthma, so can allergy and infections. 

For most patients, exposures to allergens (things we can be allergic to like dust mites, pollens, etc.) are to blame for causing most of these symptoms. If you want to get better, you have to treat your allergies.

Your options are:
  • Avoid the allergy triggers 
  • Become less allergic to your triggers. 
The best approach is to combine both options with your asthma medication program to get the very best results. So what do you need to do?

Avoidance: 

For most asthmatics, the worst allergies are dust mites, pets, or mold spores. These allergens are small in size so the particles make their way to the bronchial tube region when you breath in. Further, these allergens don't go away so the effects keep piling up.

Which allergens do you really need to avoid? Many patients can’t tell for sure if they are allergic to dust mites or their pet or something else. That makes it really important to have your allergist do targeted allergy testing using the right test method (normally skin testing) combined with accurate interpretation of what the allergy test results means in your case.  This is where a Board Certified Allergist is very important as they are trained to do just that.

Once the correct culprits are identified you work at avoiding those allergens. However, it's more than just avoidance.  This requires a process that  might look like: 
  • Removal of major sources (like your cat moves to a new home) 
  • Cleanup of the left over allergy material
  • Ongoing avoidance
  • Clean up 
Finally, after 2 to 4 months without the exposures you see a nice improvement in your symptoms. It will be worth it!

Becoming Less Allergic: 

Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, allergy drops, or allergy tabs is the process of becoming less allergic (and having your asthma do better). Allergy shot therapy started in 1911. For most asthmatics immunotherapy is given in the form of allergy shots, as there are no FDA approved, safe, and effective under the tongue methods available in the United States for dust mites, molds, or animal dander.

Who should consider the allergy shots? 
  • Allergic asthmatics with symptoms ranging over 3 months a year
  • Those who aren’t controlled well with asthma medication
  • Patients who want to take fewer medications over the course of their lives 
Also, an allergy shot patient needs to understand the program, not have a severe needle phobia or be on beta-blocker therapy.

What do Allergy Shots Involve? 

Allergy shots are generally a 5-year treatment program. The frequency of shots starts at once or twice a week then stretches to every 4 weeks for most of the remaining timeframe. Shots are administered at your doctor’s office and given into the fat at the back of the arms with small needles. A 30-minute observation time after each dose is required to catch and treat any allergic reactions that might occur. Onset of allergy relief is common by about 6 months and maximizes at the end of year two. Stopping shots before 3 years leads to symptoms returning in all patients within a year. Continuing shots over 3 years leads to most patients staying improved for years after stopping the shots. Less asthma combined with fewer medications is the normal result of immunotherapy. An extra benefit is the improvement in nasal and eye allergy symptoms that allergic asthmatics all have!

Getting the right treatment is key to asthma control success. A Board Certified Allergist can evaluate and treat all aspects of asthma and are uniquely qualified to direct your path to allergy and asthma relief.

Topics: fix allergies, allergy treatments, allergist, asthma, dust mite allergy, allergy shots