Ask The Advocates: When My Allergies Go Away, Will I Still Have Asthma?
Community Question: I have allergy-induced asthma. My allergies seem to be getting better. When my allergies go away, will I still have asthma? We asked our advocate team of respiratory therapists and asthma educators, and this is what they said:
Response from Lorene Alba, AE-C:
If allergens make your asthma worse you are not alone; about 50% of those living with asthma (including me!) are triggered by allergens. Once you have officially identified what you are allergic to (through allergy testing) you can work with your health care provider to develop an asthma action plan. This plan will help you reduce and avoid the allergens that trigger your asthma and explains how and when to take your medications. It is the best tool you have to manage self-manage your disease.
Once your allergens are controlled you should see an improvement in your asthma. Having less or no symptoms at all does not mean your asthma has gone away. Asthma is chronic, so you will have it for the rest of your life. However, the fewer symptoms you have, the better your asthma is being managed. The goal of good asthma management is to have as many symptom-free days as possible! Throughout our lifetime triggers and allergens can change, so pay attention to anything new that causes asthma symptoms.
Response from Leon Lebowitz, RRT
The hallmark of asthma is hypersensitivity of the airways. In your particular case, the asthma is allergy-induced, which means the asthma symptoms usually begin after being exposed to an allergen. Allergic asthma tends to run in families so an element of genetics may play a role. However, people with allergic asthma may also have other allergic diseases (e.g. eczema, allergic rhinitis and even food and drug allergies).
Allergic asthma usually starts out in childhood and 25% of children with allergic asthma also have symptoms as adults. For adults, it is usually the most severe for those who have had it since childhood or have been diagnosed in adulthood. As your allergies improve with treatment and preventative measures, your asthma symptoms may lessen and even appear to be in remission. It's still entirely possible that an allergic flare-up may result in a return of asthma symptoms requiring treatment. This could happen any time exposure to an allergic trigger was to occur.
However, asthma is a disease that should be regularly assessed and managed while you have it. Symptoms may actually improve with time and treatment, but it is impossible to forecast this with any certainty. It is not clear as to why, but many people have found their symptoms (wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness), seem to improve as they age. As with many diseases, asthma is very personal and can be different for each individual.
If your allergy symptoms are better controlled, then you may be experiencing fewer asthma attacks. If you become allergy free, and you only have allergic asthma, it is reasonable to assume that your asthmatic symptoms will lessen as well, but there is no guarantee. We are fortunate to live in a time when the medications that are available help to limit the effects of asthma. With proper management and adjustments to your treatment regimen (which may be necessary to control your symptoms), it is quite possible for you to continue to live a normal life whether the allergies and asthma symptoms dissipate on their own or not. It is important to focus on management, treatment and the avoidance of (allergy) triggers. The best advice is to meet regularly with your personal health care provider in an effort to continually manage and control allergic asthma.
Response from John Bottrell, RRT:
Researchers still do not know the cause of allergies or asthma, so it’s difficult to give a precise answer to this question. One theory is that allergies may improve over time as the immune system develops a tolerance and becomes less sensitive to them. At the same time, new allergies may develop over time also.
As far as asthma, when diagnosed in childhood, it does sometimes seem to go away, although it’s really just in remission. Once you have it you always have it, and it may reappear at any time. For this reason, it’s important to continue working with your doctor no matter how good you feel, and never change your asthma treatment regimen without the approval of your asthma doctor.
Editor's Note: The information in this article cannot be substituted for medical advice. Always consult your doctor before beginning, ending, or changing treatments.
Do you experience allergies and/or sensitivities?