The Asthma Center

Do I have asthma or allergies?

Asthma is a disease of the airways which can be triggered by allergy. It typically is caused by spasm and inflammation of the bronchial tubes. The blockage of the airways is usually partially or totally reversible with medications. Allergies are a common cause of asthmatic symptoms. In fact, greater than 80% of children with asthma have allergies, and the majority of adults with asthma have allergies as well. However allergy often also causes other problems such as itchy eyes and nose (hayfever).

Allergic symptoms result from the activity of specific antibodies of the IgE type. About 20% of the population produces these allergy antibodies in sufficient quantity to produce typical allergy symptoms. If you are asthmatic and are also allergic, then upon exposure to the appropriate allergen, these antibodies can attach to both allergen and mast cells in your bronchial tubes and cause an allergic reaction in your airways. When this occurs, the release of chemical mediators from mast cells will cause asthmatic symptoms. If you have nose and eye allergic symptoms, you can have allergic triggers precipitating your asthmatic symptoms.