Although there is no cure for asthma and allergies, there is treatment available to control the symptoms. While your symptoms of allergies and co-existing asthma may be mild and occur infrequently at first, they can become more severe. It's time to see a doctor when symptoms interfere with your sleep and routine day-to-day activities. Treatment by an allergist (or immunologist) will help you get your symptoms under control, which will improve your quality of life.
Schedule an appointment to see an allergy specialist if:
Your asthma or allergy symptoms are becoming worse or are no longer responding to over-the-counter medications your doctor previously recommended.
Symptoms usually develop over time; therefore, you eventually may need prescription medications to effectively manage your condition. While over-the-counter medications may be enough at first, they can cause side effects or be dangerous if you take more than the recommended dose. When you need more, the medications your doctor prescribes depends on your symptoms, triggers, and how old you are.
Reporting changes in your symptoms to your doctor early on helps prevent permanent damage to the airways and lungs. The problem is you can have serious asthma and not know it. Even if you think you have your asthma under control, not everyone suffers the typical symptoms. Asthma symptoms can change, so unless your doctor regularly monitors your condition, you might be unaware your airways are blocked.
You cough and wheeze at night or following exercise and strenuous physical exertion.
When your airways narrow and swell, excess mucus can cause tightness in your chest and shortness of breath. Breathing in colder and drier air through your mouth when you exercise narrows the airway.
Frequent or persistent symptoms in addition to prolonged chest colds could signal more serious asthma. See a doctor if you wheeze when you exhale or have a dry cough that lasts for more than a few days.
Your allergies are causing recurrent sinus infections.
Sneezing and nasal congestion aren't something you should ignore if you have asthma. In fact, the findings of a Swedish study published online in Respiratory Research suggest there may be a link between severe asthma and nasal congestion. Nasal blockage associated with rhinitis -- inflammation of the lining of the nasal cavity -- may put you at higher risk of developing asthma. Also, the severity of your nasal problems may make it more difficult to treat existing asthma.
An allergist will do tests to identify allergens that trigger your symptoms. Although heredity may be a factor that contributes to adult onset asthma, exposure to allergy triggers also plays a role, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Hormonal fluctuations during menstruation, stress, gastroesophageal reflux disease, tobacco smoke, and certain medications, including aspirin and ibuprofen, are potential triggers.
For more information, contact Allergy Partners of Richmond or a similar organization.