April showers bring May flowers...and allergies! As allergy symptoms rise during the spring for our pollen allergic patients, they may experience runny nose, congestion, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. Unfortunately, did you know the same allergens (pollen, pet dander, dust mites) can trigger your breathing as well? This is called allergic asthma. The same substances that cause nose and eye reactions can lead to airway reactions as well. If you think about it, you are creating mucus and drainage that can drip down into your lungs leading to inflammation. For some patients, they can present mainly with breathing symptoms, especially if all their mucus drips down rather than coming out of their nose, like with post nasal drip.
How can we take care of this? There are medications that exist to help allergies, there are medications that exist to help asthma, and then there are meds that can help with both. In general, if you have allergic asthma, treating your allergies specifically will lead to breathing improvement as well. Antihistamines and nasal sprays can help reduce the allergy burden directly. Medications like leukotriene inhibitors (Singulair/montelukast) can be used in allergies and asthma as the mediator has been seen to play a role in both. If your breathing is significantly affected, daily inhalers may also be needed. More long term solutions include allergen immunotherapy or biologics as this provides sustained improvement. If you are noticing that your allergies or asthma tend to increase during certain times of the year, let Dr. Shah or Dr. Gobin know! They can help you plan for the year to reduce your suffering.