Asthma Mysteries: What do we know about how non-allergic triggers impact asthma?
So what’s the deal, exactly? (Or, what it could be.)
Allergens are caused by specific type of proteins 2,3—these are not present within the non-allergic inhaled triggers that cause asthma to flare up. It might also explain why the typical allergy symptoms experienced with grass or pollen allergies, for example, like itching, watery eyes, scratchy throat, etc., are not experienced in response to a non-allergic trigger with asthma—only the lungs are impacted, which could support the claim for a localized IgE (or “allergic-like”) response.
To continue, another study notes that the lack of a specific IgE response (to a specific allergen, like dogs or birch pollen, for example) does not necessarily mean people with non-allergic asthma will not have a higher serum (blood) IgE—rather, a slightly elevated IgE level may be present in individuals that have non-allergic asthma.4 So, this may also make individuals with non-allergic asthma more prone to having the responses detailed above. For these reasons, the use of anti-IgE biologic therapy (Xolair) is being investigated for its effects in asthma control for individuals with non-allergic asthma—with, per one study, fairly positive results 5.
Well… I guess we know what we don’t know? For now, it’s still a mystery of life… Just like much of living with asthma!