On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness information for all Oklahomans, published three times a week.

The Relationship Between Allergies and Asthma

Oklahomans are very familiar with allergy season. Oklahoma City and Tulsa are regularly found in the top U.S. cities for allergies. However, for many, it’s less of a season and more like a year-round event. With a steady rotation of season-specific allergens hitting the air all year, Oklahomans with allergic asthma can expeience an even tougher time than most when pollen and mold counts are high.

How can allergies affect asthma?

According to Dr. Wendy McConnell, an otolaryngologist at INTEGRIS, “There is a unified airway theory that our upper airway (nose, sinuses and larynx) and lower airway (trachea and lungs) are connected. If you are having irritation of your upper airway from allergies, your lower airway is likely experiencing the same irritation, too. This is how nasal allergies can lead to further exacerbation of asthma symptoms,” she says.

In fact, allergic asthma is a very common form of asthma, occurring when allergens, such as pollen, are inhaled. “When you have allergies, a cascade of inflammatory cells are released in response to allergen exposure. The same inflammatory cells are also being released in your lower airways (lungs and bronchus), causing irritation," says Dr. McConnell, which can result in an asthma attack.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, approximately 25 million Americans suffer from asthma, and about 60 percent of those people have allergic asthma. But even if you don’t have allergic asthma, other types of asthma can be triggered by allergens. Exercise-induced asthma can be triggered by high pollen counts and other outside allergens.

Asthma

Let’s work together to address your symptoms and get your asthma under control. SEE MORE

Allergy & Immunology

Allergies are more than an irritation. They can be serious and sometimes, even deadly. That’s exactly why INTEGRIS allergy specialists and immunologists take your allergies very seriously. SEE MORE

Household cleaning to reduce allergy symptoms

Cleaning your home on a regular basis can minimize your chances of being exposed to indoor allergens. Although many think a change in season is the best time to clean, there are many regular tasks to keep your home allergen-free.

Entryways, doors and windows

  • Keep welcome mats outside and clean them on a regular basis. If you have a rug or carpet by an external entryway, make sure to clean it regularly to keep allergens from being tracked throughout your home.
  • Clean your air filters and keep windows closed.
  • Clean windows to remove mold and condensation with a chlorine bleach solution (3/4 cup chlorine bleach to one gallon of water).

Kitchen

  • Decrease the opportunity for mold and mildew growth in your home by using the exhaust fan while cooking.
  • Each season, empty the refrigerator and freezer, throwing away expired items. Once it’s empty, scrub the inside and wipe it dry afterward to avoid mold growth.
  • Regularly wipe down refrigerator drip pans and seal any leaks.

Living Areas

  • Clean carpets and floors weekly using a vacuum cleaner or mop.
  • Dust regularly, making sure to clean underneath knickknacks, books and other decorations.
  • Clean dog beds weekly and bathe dogs biweekly to reduce allergens brought into the home.

Bathroom

  • Use the exhaust fan when bathing to reduce moisture.
  • Clean shower curtains and bathmats weekly to avoid mold growth.
  • Seal any leaks.

Bedroom

  • Reduce clutter in the bedroom.
  • Ditch wall-to-wall carpet in favor of hardwood floors, washable area rugs or mold-resistant carpets.
  • Dust and wash sheets, comforters, blankets and pillows regularly.

When to see a doctor

If allergies seem to be a cause of your asthma, visit your doctor to develop a treatment plan. It is wise to visit an allergist if your asthma symptoms occur daily, your treatment goals aren’t met after three to six months of treatment, you’ve been prescribed oral corticosteroids twice in one year, or you need help identifying your asthma triggers. Allergists can perform tests to determine if allergies trigger your asthma and if they are seasonal or year-round.

Dr. McConnell agrees. “Asthma can be a very serious disease process. If you experience worsening of your symptoms or shortness of breath, you should contact your physician immediately or proceed to the emergency room. If you have asthma and have noted that certain seasons or activities worsen your asthma (i.e. fresh cut grass), allergy testing may be beneficial for you,” she says. In more severe cases, an allergist may prescribe allergy shots, which are helpful for controlling and preventing allergy induced asthma attacks.

If you or your child are suffering from allergies and asthma, INTEGRIS offers multiple services to help.

INTEGRIS Physicians Here For You

Caring for our patients is our top priority. Let us help you to find the right care for you.

Subscribe to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog

Subscribe for weekly emails full of useful and interesting Oklahoma-centric health and wellness info, from the doctors and health experts at INTEGRIS.