More than 50 million people suffer from allergies. This means that your immune systems respond with inflammation to the presence of otherwise harmless substances such as pollen, pet dander and mold spores. Normally allergic people are advised to avoid allergens that can cause adverse reactions. Allergies can also be treated with medications that attenuate the inflammatory allergic response.
During an attack or asthma attack, inflammation can clog the airways, which can be life-threatening.
What is asthma?
Asthma affects 20 to 25 million people in the United States, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. This pathology produces an inflammation of the respiratory tract, which narrow and produce mucus excessively. This can cause shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness or pain in the chest. During an attack or asthma attack, inflammation can clog the airways and put the patient at risk of death.
There are two types of asthma: non-allergic asthma and allergic asthma. Non-allergic asthma is not triggered by allergens. While the cause of this type of asthma is unknown, its symptoms are known; which are similar to those of allergic asthma; They can be triggered by environmental pollution, certain medications, respiratory infections and many other environmental factors.
Symptoms of allergic asthma are triggered by allergens such as pollen, pet dander or dust. As in other types of allergy, the inflammation and symptoms involved in this type of asthma are caused by an exaggerated immune response. According to the Mayo Clinic, some medications used to treat allergies can also be used to relieve the symptoms of allergic asthma.
Histamine is a substance that releases the immune system against an allergen. When histamine binds to its specific receptors in the lining cells of blood vessels, they begin to leak. Fluids and proteins in the blood that cause swelling in nearby tissues are then filtered.
Antihistamine drugs work by blocking specific histamine receptors and preventing this substance from interacting with them. Essentially, this type of medication blocks the biological effects of histamine and reduces (but does not always eliminate) the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Corticosteroids act by interfering with the production of chemicals that promote inflammation. They also inhibit the activity of the immune system.
They can be prescribed to treat severe allergic reactions.In the case of asthmatic patients are prescribed to use daily since they fight the inflammation of the respiratory tract.
Immunotherapy or vaccines for allergy
Immunotherapy is a treatment that consists of a series of desensitization treatments of the immune system so that it does not react in an exaggerated way against an allergen.
This treatment is often effective in treating people with allergic asthma who can not avoid allergens and also people with other types of allergies.
This type of treatment consists of a series of weekly injections that contain a small amount of the substance that produces the allergic reaction. Weekly injections are applied for several months and then reduced to one monthly injection. This phase of treatment can continue for three to five years. Over time, the immune system becomes less sensitive to the specific allergen and, as a result, the allergic reaction is reduced or eliminated.
About the author
Dr. Boyan Hadjiev has been practicing medicine for five years. He has a double certification in Internal Medicine (2003) and in Allergy and Immunology (2005).
Dr. Hadjiev graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Biology and a medical degree from the Cleveland Clinic-Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.