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Do Allergies Cause Asthma?

Do Allergies Cause Asthma?

Allergies don't cause asthma. But kids who have allergies, or a family history of allergies, are more likely to get asthma than those who don't.

And when kids already have asthma, having allergies can sometimes make their asthma symptoms worse.

How Do Allergies Make Asthma Worse?

Lots of kids with asthma have worse asthma symptoms when they're around allergens (the things that give them an allergic reaction). Common allergens are dust mites, mold, pollen, and animal dander.

When someone has an allergy, the immune system reacts to the allergen like it's an invader. To fight it off, the immune system makes something called immunoglobulin E (IgE). When IgE mixes with the allergen, chemicals release that are made to protect the body. One of these is histamine. Histamine causes allergic reactions that can affect the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and lungs.

When the airways in the lungs are affected, it can bring on symptoms of asthma (like coughing, wheezing, or trouble breathing).

The body remembers this response, and whenever it comes into contact with the allergen, the same thing can happen. Because of that, allergies can make it hard for some people to keep their asthma under control.

Do Allergies Affect Your Child's Asthma?

If your child's asthma isn't under control, find out if allergies are making it worse. Talk to your doctor, who may refer your child to an allergist for testing.

If it turns out that your child's asthma is triggered by certain allergens, you'll want to limit your child's exposure to them. This can go a long way toward relieving asthma symptoms.

The doctor or allergist may recommend allergy medicine or allergy shots if your child can't avoid an allergen.

Reviewed by: Bonnie B. Hudak, MD
Date reviewed: September 2017

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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