Allergy and Asthma

Allergy and Asthma: Their Main Differences and Treatment

Signs of Asthma in an Adult with Allergies

Allergy is a condition associated with intolerability to components of food and environmental objects. This disease can occur acutely or chronically provoking the appearance of antigen-associated pathologies. Therefore, the question often arises whether allergies can turn into asthma, or are these independent diagnoses?

What Is the Difference between Allergic Bronchial Asthma and Allergies?

Bronchial asthma and allergies can provoke each other, but their mechanism of occurrence is different. Bronchial asthma is a non-infectious disease characterized by bronchospasm. It occurs against the background of reactivity of the upper respiratory tract.

Causes of Bronchial Asthma

Causes can be congenital or acquired. The first is distinguished by a hereditary character. Among the factors of the acquired option are:

  • damage to the upper respiratory tract by bacteria;
  • viral infection;
  • allergy;
  • intestinal pathology;
  • contact with pollen or household dust;
  • harmful nature of labor;
  • intoxication with inhalation poisons;
  • prolonged use of drugs.

Sensitizing factors also include stress, physical exertion, pungent odor, or a change in weather.

How Does the Pathology Develop?

Asthma against the background of an allergy or other factor goes through several stages of development. Healthy bronchi have goblet cells that produce mucus. Thanks to the cilia lining the surface of airways, it is brought out. During any respiratory disease, mucus begins to be produced in excess and accumulates in bronchi.

As a response to the action of the stimulus, a spasm of bronchi occurs, because of which the outflow of secretion is also difficult. It remains in the final section of the respiratory tract. Irritation of the mucous membrane provokes inflammation of upper respiratory passages. Due to the immune type of reaction, mucus contains many active cells (macrophages, lymphocytes, basophils).

Against the background of these processes, the lumen of bronchi is narrowed, oxygen does not penetrate in the right amount. As a result, exhalation is difficult. Gradually, the affected area is filled with connective tissue and gets sclerosed. Tidal volume is reduced, the degree of violation is increased.

Forms and Severity of Bronchial Asthma

Depending on the cause of the pathology, several types of bronchial asthma are distinguished:

  • allergic;
  • psychological;
  • infectious and allergic;
  • aspirin-sensitive;
  • physical effort.

Allergy and asthma have a direct connection. This type of pathology characterized by suffocation is more common than others and is caused by a predisposition to substances intolerability of a certain type. Bronchial reactivity occurs by the same mechanisms as allergic conditions. In this case, the immune system is already sensitized, blood contains memory cells. Pollen and hair of animals cause bronchial asthma more often than other factors.

With intolerability to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin-sensitive asthma occurs released as a separate form. A hazardous substance can be inhaled, orally or parenterally.

The infectious-allergic type is characterized in the appearance of the disease which is caused by an exacerbation of the chronic processes of nasopharynx and throat. The psychological form is provoked by stress or prolonged overloads. In children, it often occurs due to suppression of emotions.

Depending on the duration of the disease, the frequency of exacerbations, the strength of the action, bronchial asthma can occur in mild, moderate or severe forms. The first is characterized by:

  • rare exacerbations;
  • attacks no more than once a week;
  • respiratory function is more than 80% of the norm;
  • aggravated at night 1-2 times monthly.

If a mild form is persistent and permanent, the symptoms can be more disturbing, both day and night. Sleep and physical activity may be impaired.

The average degree of impairment is characterized by a decrease in tidal volume of less than 80% of the norm. Signs of pathology bother daily, at night more than one time per week. In a severe case, lung capacity is less than 60%, symptoms are constantly disturbing. With physical exertion, a person’s condition worsens.

Distinctive Signs of Allergies Transition to Asthma

To understand how asthma differs from allergies, you need to know the symptoms of each disorder. An allergy is characterized by an acute onset, a rash on a body, suffocation or loss of consciousness. Quincke’s edema is most similar to an asthma attack, therefore it is best to describe it.

For this type of allergic reaction, a sharp deterioration in breathing is characterized by swelling of the upper lip and larynx. Due to edema, inhalation worsens, whereas in case of bronchial asthma, exhalation deteriorates. Symptoms of an attack are different from other conditions.

When examining a patient with allergies, there are no chronic changes in bronchi. You cannot track the frequency of symptoms. They are only associated with contact with a hazardous substance. Almost immediately after it, manifestations of allergy occur. If a person does not encounter the substance for 10 years, there will be no signs of allergy. In contrast, with bronchial asthma, the symptoms recur at least once a month.

How Is Bronchial Asthma Manifested?

Symptoms of asthma in an adult on the background of allergy are as follows:

  • precursor period;
  • occurrence of cough;
  • whistling when exhaling;
  • dyspnea;
  • panic;
  • blue color of lips and nasolabial triangle.

The attack is stopped by inhalation of a hormonal drug in an inhaler, usually an asthmatic always carries it with him. In its absence, the attack passes after the injection. In some cases, it stops on its own, most often with a mild form of violation.

It Is Important to Know

Bronchial asthma proceeds undulating, that is, periods of exacerbations are replaced by remissions, during which a patient does not experience almost any discomfort. The pathological process is based on chronic inflammation; therefore, the main treatment should be anti-inflammatory treatment.

The first stage of the development of the disease is detected by conducting provocative tests to determine the altered (often increased) sensitivity and reactivity of bronchi in relation to vasoconstrictive substances, physical activity, and cold air.

Changes in the sensitivity and reactivity of bronchi can be combined with violations of the state of endocrine, immune and nervous systems, which also have no clinical manifestations and are detected by laboratory methods, often by conducting stress tests.

The second stage of the formation of bronchial asthma does not occur in all patients and is preceded by clinically pronounced bronchial asthma in 20-40% of patients. The state of pre-asthma is not a nosological form, but a set of signs indicating a real threat of the occurrence of clinically pronounced bronchial asthma. It is characterized by the presence of acute, recurring or chronic nonspecific diseases of bronchi and lungs with respiratory discomfort and the phenomena of reversible bronchial obstruction in combination with one or two of the following symptoms:

  • a hereditary predisposition to allergic diseases and bronchial asthma,
  • in non-pulmonary manifestations of allergic, altered reactivity of the body,
  • eosinophilia of blood and / or sputum.

The presence of these signs can be considered as the presence in a patient of an unobstructed course of bronchial asthma.

Methods for Diagnosing Asthma

Due to the specific composition of mucus in bronchi, it is easy to determine bronchial asthma. The analysis determines Charcot-Leiden crystals and spiral-shaped ones besides eosinophils and immune cells. In a general analysis of biological fluid, an elevated level of eosinophils is found, which are responsible for controlling allergic conditions.

In a comprehensive plan for examining asthma, bronchoscopy and tomography are performed. These studies allow you to see the degree of organ changes.

To assess the function of external respiration, the modern fluorimetric method is used. It determines the forced expiratory volume, that is, exceeding 1 second and performed with maximum force.

The spirometer allows you to take a few more measurements of the function of bronchi: forced and standard vital capacity of lungs, residual and accelerated expiratory volume. Studies are carried out after the introduction of bronchodilator.

Disease Treatment

Asthma caused by allergies is treated in several ways:

  • elimination of allergen;
  • struggle against symptoms of the disorder.

Treatment should be comprehensive, consistent and lengthy.

In Adults

A patient is placed in a ward, where contact with allergic components is practically eliminated. After the establishment of a hazardous substance, it is eliminated from every-day life.

The second stage is a decrease in asthma. Since the disease is based on chronic tissue changes, it is impossible to cure asthma. Spray from asthma and allergies helps to block the release of the active substances of allergies, suppress inflammation, and cope with suffocation. This is an emergency aid available as an aerosol. Modern means have a long period of action assisting to increase the period of remission.

For delayed therapy, asthma allergy pills are used. They are aimed at increasing the level of immunity reducing the reactivity of respiratory tract. It takes a long course of drugs to count on the result.

To help remove viscous sputum, bronchodilators, expectorants, physiotherapy are prescribed. Drainage massage also helps.

In Children

A feature of the treatment of bronchial asthma in children is the need for full control over situation. Due to the physiological characteristics of a child’s body, in the absence of quick help, the patient’s condition deteriorates sharply. A child needs remedies with the shortest possible onset of action. General principles of treatment are not different. As the body grows, a child can outgrow the pathology after 5 years.


Since the cause of an allergy may be food, a patient is transferred to a low-allergenic diet. Since spicy foods can trigger an attack, spices and salt are excluded from the nutrition plan.

Breathing Exercises

Against the background of drugs, a patient is prescribed gymnastics outside the period of exacerbation. It allows you to train muscles, increase endurance and gradually boost the volume of forced expiration which was changed during asthma.

What Should I Do to Prevent Allergies from Developing into Asthma?

Often allergies begin with a runny nose, eye inflammation, and lacrimation. If you do not pay attention to the symptoms and do not stop the allergy, it becomes chronic. Due to the similar structure of different parts of the upper respiratory tract, changes in some of them provoke problems in others. With a decrease in immunity, the risk of bronchial asthma increases.

Therefore, a person needs support during the period of seasonal infections in the form of vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids. In spring and summer, it is necessary to conduct recruitment, to exclude the action of asthma development factors.

Preventative Measures

To prevent asthma, you need to follow the recommendations on healthy lifestyle, eliminate bad habits, and eat right. If symptoms of acute respiratory viral infections or allergies occur, you need to consult a specialist in order to avoid complications and properly conduct treatment. The diagnosis of behavior should be consistent with the treatment plan in order to maintain the disease at the mild level. During an attack, you should immediately use an inhaler, so as not to go to the category of a protracted attack.

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