Allergies or Asthma: Is There a Difference?

Jun 01, 2022

Allergies or Asthma: Is There a Difference?

Allergies and asthma can have similar symptoms and triggers. Although they sometimes occur together, they are separate conditions with different treatments.

From a glance, asthma and allergies can be difficult to tell apart. People with chronic allergies and people with asthma both avoid triggers, such as pet dander, pollinating trees, and dusty places like barns and warehouses. However, there are differences in the symptoms and causes of asthma and allergies. 

That’s why you need an accurate diagnosis and a proper treatment plan for long-term management and in case of emergency. At Lakepointe Direct Primary Care in Lewisville, Texas, Dr. Marcelo Brito sees patients with allergies and asthma to provide both acute care and chronic disease management for a healthier, more active you.

Allergies vs. asthma 

Most people have experienced allergies at some point, but symptoms and severity can vary wildly. Where one person might only suffer from itchy eyes and congestion every spring, another might be in life-threatening danger from a bee sting. 

Allergies are caused by your immune system’s response to allergens, including pollen, pet dander, food, and insect bites. Depending on the allergen, your symptoms might include: 

  • Hay fever (congestion, runny nose, etc.) 
  • Itchy eyes and conjunctivitis 
  • Tingling and swelling in the mouth/throat 
  • Hives on the body 
  • Trouble breathing or wheezing
  • Anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening reaction where your body goes into shock)

Asthma is a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the airway. This causes similar respiratory symptoms to allergies, but with a few notable differences: 

  • Uncontrollable coughing
  • Tightening/narrowing of the throat 
  • Pressure in the chest 
  • Rapid breathing or wheezing 
  • Difficulty speaking or staying calm 

The difficulty with asthma and allergies is that having one doesn’t disqualify you from having the other. In fact, over 25 million people in the US have asthma, and 60% of these cases are allergic asthma. This means that allergies and asthma are both present, but allergens don’t just exacerbate your allergies, they can also trigger asthma attacks. 

The importance of an accurate diagnosis

Respiratory symptoms like coughing, congestion, and trouble breathing are not only annoying to live with but can become life-threatening if they become severe. A strong allergic reaction or asthma attack can leave you struggling for breath, and forgetting your inhaler or epi-pen could be a fatal mistake. 

You can prevent emergencies like these, identify allergens, and manage your condition with help from a specialist. At Lakepointe Direct Primary Care, our team uses diagnostics like allergy and spirometry testing to better understand your situation. 

From there, we can recommend treatment options to minimize your symptoms and reduce your reactions to environmental triggers. Oral medications are available for both asthma and allergies, along with traditional inhalers. 

We also offer immunotherapy, which desensitizes your immune system in a process similar to exposure therapy. This is an incremental process so it can take time to see significant results, but it’s a worthwhile investment if your allergens are hard to avoid. 

Struggling with allergies, asthma, or both? Schedule a consultation at Lakepointe to begin narrowing down potential triggers and treatments. To get in touch, call 972-573-7228 or book an appointment online.