Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Editorial Board: Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Allergic Asthma

Allergic Asthma

Allergic asthma or extrinsic asthma (not part of the essential nature of someone or something; coming or operating from outside) is the most common form of asthma among all the asthma types.

Allergic asthma from it’s self explanatory word, results from an allergic reaction. Our immune system normally exists to fight off infection. In allergic asthma, however, your body senses allergens(a substance that causes an allergic reaction), which would normally be harmless, as a foreign body and mounts an attack against them. This immune attack can lead to asthma symptoms.

Allergic Asthma Symptoms

Many of the symptoms of allergic asthma and non-allergic asthma are similar and include:- 

  1. Wheezing
  2. Chest tightness
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Chronic cough

Allergic asthma symptoms can be triggered by:- 

  1. Most smokes i.e tobacco smoke
  2. Animal dander(Skin flakes in an animal’s fur or hair)
  3. Dust mites
  4. Cockroaches
  5. Molds
  6. Pollens
Generally, allergic asthma is triggered when you inhale one of the above mentioned triggers. Once you inhale these triggers, a complex reaction, referred to as the pathophysiology of asthma, begins, resulting in the development of asthma symptoms. 

Much of this results from the development of IgE {Immunoglobulin E – is the antibody produced in excess in allergic patients. IgE can be measured in a blood sample to determine if a person is allergic. Allergic people usually have high levels of IgE.}.

IgE (Immunoglobulin E)

Allergic asthma,Immunoglobulin E (IgE) and your Immune system:-

Basically, your immune system protects you from infections, but it can also be responsible for your worsening symptoms in allergic asthma. You may notice that at the same time you have allergy symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes and other sinus complaints, your peak flows are lower, you are wheezing more, and you may experience more shortness of breath. Therefore, how are our immune system and allergic asthma linked?

If you have allergic asthma then you are most likely atopic, and have an inherited tendency towards allergy. As a result, your immune system develops an exaggerated response to the previously mentioned allergens or triggers. Your body senses these allergens, perceives them as foreign body, and prepares to fight them off. 

This process, often referred to as the allergic cascade, happens in three steps:- 

  1. Sensitization [the state of being sensitive (as to an antigen)] – First exposure to an allergen causing development of IgE.
  2. Early phase response – Upon re-exposure to an allergen, IgE now attacks or binds to the allergen, which causes the release of other chemicals, called mediators, that causes acute inflammation and bronchoconstriction.
  3. Late Phase response – Release of eosinophils (a white blood cell containing granules that are readily stained by eosin) after binding of allergen and IgE causes more inflammation and symptoms several hours after the exposure.
Under summarize:- your body is exposed to an allergen, which causes your body to develop IgE. On re-exposure to that allergen, IgE leads to the development of asthma symptoms.

Treating Allergic Asthma

It mainly involves 3 main components: 

  1. Monitoring of peak flow readings and asthma symptoms
  2. Avoiding allergic asthma triggers
  3. Treating with medications

Basic Trigger – Allergic Asthma Control 

  1. Reduce Moisture
  2. Decrease dust mites
  3. Make your bedroom a trigger-free area

Non-Allergic Asthma or Intrinsic Asthma

Non-Allergic Asthma or Intrinsic Asthma type is caused by viral infections and other irritants,therefore it’s just the opposite of Allergic Asthma. Intrinsic asthma has no clear connection with allergy. It can start at any age. The triggers are usually infection, polluted air, exercise, or cold temperatures, but some attacks occur without any obvious trigger.