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Allergies or Asthma: Is There a Difference?

Allergies and asthma can both make you miserable. They often occur together and sometimes have similar symptoms, so it makes sense that you might confuse them, but they’re two different conditions.

At South Plains Rural Health with offices in Levelland, Lamesa, and Big Spring, Texas, the team can help you manage allergies and/or asthma and help ward off an asthma attack caused by an allergic reaction. 

Here’s what they want you to know about allergies and asthma.

All about allergies

An allergy results when your immune system comes in contact with a harmless substance, but views it as a possible threat and releases chemicals to attack it. Allergies can occur in response to many things, including pollen, pollution, pet dander, mold, foods, and chemicals. 

Allergy symptoms usually include:

Allergies can also affect the lungs, causing wheezing and difficulty breathing -- mimicking asthma symptoms.

All about asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition involving inflammation of the airways. These tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs narrow, which restricts breath. Asthma symptoms include wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

An asthma attack occurs when these symptoms worsen.  

The relationship between allergies and asthma

Allergies can trigger asthma or make existing asthma worse. For some people, the immune response that triggers an allergy also leads to inflammation in the lungs and airways, a condition known as allergic asthma. 

You don’t have to have allergies to experience asthma however. Asthma can be triggered by exercise, cold air, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), stress, and infections. You may have multiple asthma triggers, too. 

If you have a family history of allergies, you’re at risk for allergic asthma. People with hay fever or other allergies are also at a greater risk of asthma. 

Treatments for asthma and allergies

It’s important you seek treatment from a qualified medical professional so that you get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Usually, treatments treat either asthma or allergies, but not both. A few treatments that help with both conditions are available. The team at South Rural Plains Health Services can determine what type of treatment best suits your condition so you get the best possible care and relief. 

You may need more than one medication to treat your allergies and your asthma, especially if you tend to have severe reactions at times. We can also help you identify known allergy or asthma triggers. Avoiding these is a critical step in preventing allergy flare-ups and asthma attacks. 

We monitor your allergies or asthma regularly, too, as symptoms can change over time. Whenever you think you need adjustments to your treatment, come in for an appointment. 

Don’t self-diagnose your respiratory ailment. If you have trouble breathing, coughing, and wheezing, it’s important to see a specialist even if you think it’s “just” allergies. At South Plains Rural Health, we can help. We’ll work with you to get the best treatment. Call today for an appointment, or use the online tool to schedule

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