Which Comes First: Allergies or Asthma?

Allergies and asthma can often occur together, but does one cause the other? While it can be difficult to know, the answer is probably allergies—especially if you suffer from the very common condition, allergic asthma.

Understand the Allergy and Asthma Connection

Allergic (also called extrinsic) asthma is another name for asthma that's caused by an immune system response to an inhaled substance in the environment. Common allergic asthma triggers include pollen, dust, mold, pets, and cockroaches.

The symptoms of allergic asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness or pressure, and shortness of breath.

Identifying Allergic Asthma Triggers

If you suffer from allergic asthma, the best way to protect yourself is to try to identify your allergy triggers either by paying attention to what you're doing when your allergies or asthma occur and/or by undergoing allergy testing. Once you recognize what's sparking your allergies and asthma, take these steps to minimize exposure to these items.

For seasonal (outdoor) allergens:

  • Check the mold and pollen counts before going outside.
  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days when the pollen count is particularly high.
  • Keep your home and car windows closed to prevent outdoor allergens from getting in.
  • Run your air conditioning.
  • Shower and wash your clothes after spending time outdoors.

For indoor allergens:

  • Remove carpeting, curtains, books, and other items that collect dust.
  • Vacuum often using a HEPA filter.
  • Wash bedding in hot water at least once a week.
  • Use hypoallergenic covers on your mattress, box spring, and pillows.
  • Run a dehumidifier to keep humidity between 30 to 50 percent.
  • Banish pets from the bedroom.
  • Fix leaks that can lead to mold growth and cockroaches.
  • Cover food and keep floors clear of crumbs to discourage insects.

Managing Allergic Asthma

Of course even your best efforts may not be enough to keep you away from outdoor and indoor allergens, but you can take some extra steps to control your allergy and asthma reaction. Talk to your doctor about taking allergy control medications, have an antihistamine, and keep a fast-acting relief inhaler readily available.

If your allergic asthma is an ongoing problem, explore the benefits of undergoing immunotherapy to get you desensitized to allergy triggers.




Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. "Allergic Asthma." N.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012.

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "How Allergy Shots Can Help Control Increasing Asthma Rates." N.d. 4 Sept. 2012.

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "Treating Asthma." N.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012.