Allergy Basics

Allergic Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory disease that affects the lungs and is intricately linked with allergies. A tendency towards asthma often is inherited. Although we know a lot about asthma and more than 20 million Americans have this disease, we do not know what causes it. This section will explore what we know about allergic asthma.

What Exacerbates Allergic Asthma?

Triggers of allergic asthma include allergens such as mold, pollen, dust-mite and cockroach leavings, and animal dander. Other triggers include an assortment of irritants such as cigarette smoke and stimuli such as cold weather, infections, and exercise.

Being a worrywart or the fearful type may also trigger asthma attacks or make an attack more severe. Emotional stress and bodily reactions are tied together in a bond that is, fortunately, breakable through such means as relaxation and exercise, stress management, and proper nutrition. Other asthma triggers capable of causing (or worsening) asthma symptoms include viral infections, drug allergies, and even positive emotions, such as excitement and laughter.

When asthmatics encounter a trigger, their airways become inflamed and swollen and increase the production of mucus, all of which reduce the supply of air. Wheezing, that whistling sound from the chest that can be heard on exhalation, is the most recognizable asthma symptom, a result of a constricted airway. However, some asthmatics never wheeze. Other symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath, tightening of the chest, and difficulty breathing.