Allergies and Asthma

Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Whitney VenegoniBy: Whitney Venegoni, APRN, FNP-BC, Family Nurse Practitioner

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and this is the time of year symptoms can be the most challenging.  Symptoms of allergies and asthma vary in severity, and they are experienced differently by every patient. Over 100 million Americans experience allergies each year, affecting as many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children. More than 27 million people in the US have asthma, which is about one in 12 people. A higher percentage of our population suffers from allergies in Kansas compared to many states in the United States.

Allergy symptoms can be intermittent and last a short period of time, or ongoing, even impairing sleep or daily activities. In the most severe cases symptoms are life threatening. Allergic reactions happen when our immune system has an abnormal reaction to something we are exposed to. Things like pollen, dust, animal dander, mold, food, insect stings and certain medications are some common culprits. For some, symptoms include a runny nose and sneezing during springtime. We use allergy medications to help decrease the reaction our body has to these triggers and manage symptoms. Kansas has a higher-than-average amount of tree and grass pollen, which is a common trigger for many. This is why many experience allergies for the first time in their lives after relocating here. For others, exposure to certain allergens will cause a life-threatening reaction. Symptoms for these patients can include flushed skin, an itchy feeling in the mouth, difficulty breathing or speaking, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and vomiting or diarrhea.  This requires an immediate injectable life-saving medication along with emergency evaluation.

Allergies and Asthma are Related

Allergies and AsthmaAllergies and asthma are related, and people that have allergies are more likely to have asthma. Family history of asthma, low birth weight, prematurity, exposure to tobacco smoke and pollutants, respiratory infections, and being overweight increase the risk of developing asthma. Much like allergies, asthma symptoms also tend to start after a trigger. These triggers can also include pollen, dust and mold but expand into other things like tobacco smoke, perfumes and other irritants.  Some patients can experience symptoms when they begin to exercise. The trigger causes inflammation and irritation in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. This is called an “asthma attack.” Patients can feel short of breath and start to cough or wheeze. Many people describe the feeling as a tightness in the chest, restriction, or weight on their chest. These symptoms can sometimes resolve if the patient can get away from the trigger, but often require the use of medications. Inhalers are used to help prevent symptoms or to manage them once they begin.  Like allergies, symptoms can be mild and intermittent, persistent or life threatening.

Allergies and asthma can both be managed with the help of your primary care provider. It is important to focus on awareness of these diagnoses so all patients experiencing symptoms know that help is available. In America, complications and death associated with asthma are higher in patients experiencing poverty and with less access to education and health care. For some, there is also stigma associated with inhaler use and seeking treatment. For patients suffering from symptoms, treatment is so important. If you think you might be suffering from allergies or asthma, contact your healthcare provider to discuss. You can make an appointment at Health Partnership Clinic by calling 913-648-2266.

For additional information, visit Allergy and Asthma Federation of America at

Allergies and Asthma

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *