As winter weather rolls in, so do colds and flu. But for those with asthma, it can be an especially stressful time of year because even a simple cold virus can trigger a major asthma event.
"In asthma, the lungs are already irritable and more reactive. So any virus that impacts the lungs has a propensity for creating more problems, including bringing on an asthma event faster and easier than many people realize," says Jonathan Field, MD, director of the Allergy and Asthma Clinic at NYU Medical Center/Bellevue...
Your immune system’s job is to protect you from bacteria and viruses. If you have allergies, though, part of your immune system works too hard. It may attack harmless substances -- like cat dander or pollen -- in your nose, lungs, eyes, and under your skin.
When your body meets an allergen, it makes chemicals called IgE antibodies. They cause the release of chemicals like histamine, which cause swelling and inflammation. This creates familiar symptoms like a runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing as your body tries to remove the allergen.
What Is Allergic Asthma?
If you have allergic asthma, your airways are extra sensitive to certain allergens. Once they get into your body, your immune system overreacts. The muscles around your airways tighten. The airways become inflamed and over time are flooded with thick mucus.
Whether you have allergic asthma or non-allergic asthma, the symptoms are generally the same. You’re likely to:
Keep in mind that allergens aren’t the only thing that can make your allergic asthma worse. Irritants may still trigger an asthma attack, even though they don't cause an allergic reaction. These include:
Smoke from tobacco, a fireplace, candles, incense, or fireworks