Allergy-Asthma Connection

Many people who have asthma also have allergies. It is common for your asthma triggers to include things that you have contact with every day and are allergic to, such as:

  • animal dander
  • dust
  • molds
  • pollen

Know Your Allergies

Allergic reactions cause asthma symptoms to flare up. This can be annoying for some people and a medical emergency for others. You can help limit flare-ups by reducing contact with your known allergy triggers. Sometimes allergy medicine is prescribed for people with asthma who have allergies. Allergy medicine should only be used under your doctor's guidance and exactly as he or she directs.


Antihistamines, decongestants, and intranasal steroids are medicines commonly used to treat allergies. They can prevent or ease allergic reactions that sometimes cause airways to act up.

  • Antihistamines block the effects of histamine, a substance that causes sneezing and an itchy, runny nose. Antihistamines work best if they are taken before your symptoms begin. Antihistamines can prevent allergy symptoms from flaring up if taken before contact with something to which you are allergic.
  • Decongestants shrink swollen blood vessels in the nose. By opening your air passages, they relieve pressure in the sinuses. Decongestants help stop stuffiness after it has begun and are good for temporary relief of symptoms.
  • Intranasal steroids can also be helpful in reducing allergy symptoms. They work by limiting nasal congestion and inflammation.

Allergy Injections

For some people, avoiding triggers and using allergy medicine is not enough to control or prevent their allergy symptoms. Allergy injections may offer an alternative if symptoms are severe. There are several different terms used to describe allergy injections, including allergy vaccination, immunotherapy, and allergy desensitization shots. In this treatment, small amounts of the trigger substance are injected into the patient. Over time, the amount of the substance injected increases until the body becomes tolerant to the substance and no longer reacts.


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Written by Karen Serrano, MD Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reviewed by Lisa V. Suffian, MD

Instructor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy and Pulmonary Medicine at Saint Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine

Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Saint Louis University

Board certified in Allergy and Immunology

Last updated June 2008