Living with a chronic illness is not easy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6 in 10 American adults have a chronic disease. Moreover, 4 in 10 of these adults suffer from two or more. Some of the most common chronic conditions today are allergy and asthma.
Various professionals have linked allergy and asthma together. Allergies can often trigger asthma, which can lead to serious life-threatening risks. However, not all asthma attacks are caused by allergies. In fact, allergies and asthma have differences you should know.
What is a Chronic Illness?
Unlike the common cold or fever, a chronic illness is a type of condition that lasts more than three months. People with this condition need to undergo continuous medical attention to ensure a better quality of living.
Because of these conditions, their day-to-day life is severely affected, often limiting them from doing certain activities or consuming particular foods. Most of these conditions aren't wholly curable, nor will they disappear because of the constant intake of medicines.
Heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, allergy, and asthma are just a few examples of chronic diseases. They cause the US an annual cost of $3.8 trillion in health care costs annually.
Asthma versus Allergies
As mentioned before, asthma and allergies often go hand-in-hand, but one can still occur without the other. Knowing their differences and similarities will allow you to appropriately respond and manage the symptoms or completely prevent them from occurring.
Asthma is a long-term disease that affects the lungs and is considered one of the most common diseases that affect children. That doesn't mean adults don't have it too.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), 1 in 13 people has asthma, which means roughly 25 million of the American population is affected. 8.4 percent of this consists of children, while 7.7 percent are adults. Asthma cases have been rising since the 1980s, affecting American citizens no matter the sex, age, and race.
While no one knows every single thing that can cause asthma, genetic, occupational, and environmental factors have been linked to its development. If you have a relative who has asthma, there's a high chance that you'll have it too. Moreover, things in the environment, such as dampness, mold, dust mites, and even secondhand smoke from a cigarette, have been proven to develop this lung disease.
That said, it’s important to keep your immune system fortified and robust. Thus, exercise, eat a balanced diet, and get active. Keeping yourself informed about the nature of your ailment is also crucial. You can fetch some informative information and valuable tips at BuzzRx.com, health books, and online materials that tackle bolstering our immune system and fighting asthma and allergies.
An allergy is the body's immune response to a relatively harmless substance such as animal dander, pollen, insect bites, and certain foods. At least 50 million Americans have experienced different types of allergies each year. Moreover, it is the 6th leading cause of chronic illnesses in the US. It's also the most common medical issue found in children, with food allergies recording 200,000 cases of emergency room visits each year.
When exposed to an allergen for the first time, your body will respond by creating allergic (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies work by locating the allergen and getting rid of it. Thus, the body releases the chemical histamine, causing the symptoms of allergies.
Not everyone can get allergies. Most of the time, allergies are genetic. However, while children can inherit allergies, they wouldn't inherit any particular allergen. Hence, you or your partner might have allergies if your child develops one.
How Are They Different?
These two conditions are often linked together because of how many allergens can trigger asthma. Pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and even food allergens can cause a sudden asthma attack. This is often called allergy-induced asthma or simply allergic asthma.
However, allergy and asthma have different symptoms, which allows you to distinguish one from the other.
You'll know you're under an asthma attack when you feel a tightness in your chest, coughing, difficulty in breathing, and wheezing. This happens because of how narrow airways affect how the air moves through your lungs. Whenever an asthma attack occurs, your lung's airways will swell and shrink, preventing you from getting the amount of air your body needs. Moreover, mucus often clogs the airways, which can worsen your condition.
On the other hand, allergies have degrees of reactions depending on the body's response to allergens. A mild reaction often results in hives or rashes, watery eyes, itchiness, runny nose, and hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Meanwhile, moderate reactions come with rashes, itchiness, swelling, and difficulty breathing.
A severe reaction, sometimes called anaphylaxis, needs immediate medical care. While it doesn't occur often, it is life-threatening and can lead to death. During a severe reaction, your body will have a sudden response to the allergen in your system, thus affecting your body entirely.
This kind of reaction starts with itchiness in the eyes or face, followed by dire symptoms, such as cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea, throat swelling, vomiting, hives, and angioedema. Since anaphylaxis also causes your blood pressure to dip, you'll likely be confused and dizzy during it.
Asthma and allergies are chronic diseases that are difficult to live with. While they have their differences, both can occur together and lead to serious life-threatening risks. However, they're both manageable diseases, and as long as you do your best to prepare for a possible attack and avoid your triggers, you'll surely be able to have a good quality of life.