What can cause allergies and asthma
How do scientists know how much pollen is in the air?
They set a trap. The trap — generally a glass plate or rod coated with adhesive — is analyzed every few hours, and the number of particles collected is then averaged to reflect the particles that would pass through the area in any 24-hour period. That measurement is converted to pollen per cubic meter. Mold counts work much the same way.
A pollen count is an imprecise measurement, scientists confess, and an arduous one — at the analysis stage, pollen grains are counted one by one under a microscope.
It is also highly time-consuming to discern between types of pollen, so they are generally bundled into one variable. Given the imprecise nature of the measurement, entire daily pollen counts are often reported simply as low, moderate or high.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology provides up-to-date pollen counts for U.S. states.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis may at first feel love those of a freezing.
But unlike a freezing that may incubate before causing discomfort, symptoms of allergies generally appear almost as soon as a person encounters an allergen, such as pollen or mold.
Symptoms include itchy eyes, ears, nose or throat, sneezing, irritability, nasal congestion and hoarseness.
People may also experience cough, postnasal drip, sinus pressure or headaches, decreased sense of smell, snoring, sleep apnea, fatigue and asthma, Josephson said. [Oral Allergy Syndrome: 6 Ways to Avoid an Itchy, Tingling Mouth]
Many of these symptoms are the immune system’s overreaction as it attempts to protect the vital and sensitive respiratory system from exterior invaders. The antibodies produced by the body hold the foreign invaders out, but also cause the symptoms characteristic of allergic responses.
People can develop hay fever at any age, but most people are diagnosed with the disorder in childhood or early adulthood, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Symptoms typically become less severe as people age.
Often, children may first experience food allergies and eczema, or itchy skin, before developing hay fever, Josephson said. «This then worsens over the years, and patients then develop allergies to indoor allergens love dust and animals, or seasonal rhinitis, love ragweed, grass pollen, molds and tree pollen.»
Hay fever can also lead to other medical conditions. People who are allergic to weeds are more likely to get other allergies and develop asthma as they age, Josephson said. But those who get immunotherapy, such as allergy shots that assist people’s bodies get used to allergens, are less likely to develop asthma, he said.
Asthma symptoms often happen in response to a trigger.
Common triggers include:
- medicines – particularly anti-inflammatory painkillers love ibuprofen and aspirin
- allergies – such as to pollen, dust mites, animal fur or feathers
- emotions, including stress, or laughter
- infections love colds and flu
- mould or damp
- smoke, fumes and pollution
- weather – such as sudden changes in temperature, freezing air, wind, thunderstorms, heat and humidity
Once you know your triggers, trying to avoid them may assist control your asthma symptoms.
Asthma UK has more information on asthma triggers.
Who’s at risk?
A number of things can increase your chances of getting asthma.
- having had bronchiolitis – a common childhood lung infection
- having a family history of asthma or atopic conditions
- exposure to tobacco smoke as a kid
- having an allergy-related condition, such as eczema, a food allergy or hay fever – these are known as atopic conditions
- your mother smoking during pregnancy
- being born prematurely (before 37 weeks) or with a low birthweight
Some people may also be at risk of developing asthma through their job.
In some cases, asthma is associated with substances you may be exposed to at work.
This is known as occupational asthma.
Some of the most common causes of occupational asthma include:
- colophony (a substance often found in solder fumes)
- flour and grain dust
- isocyanates (chemicals often found in spray paint)
- wood dust
Paint sprayers, bakers, pastry makers, nurses, chemical workers, animal handlers, timber workers, welders and food processing workers are every examples of people who may own a higher risk of being exposed to these substances.
Want to know more?
Sheet final reviewed: 19 February 2018
Next review due: 19 February 2021
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, half of the 20 million Americans who own asthma own the allergic type of asthma, in which something specific sets off their attack.
Bronchitis, meanwhile, mostly occurs as the result of an infection.
However, adult smokers who cough a lot are said to own chronic bronchitis. “Again, this is semantics, and one physician might call something bronchitis that another calls asthma,” Fishbein said.
Patients likely wouldneed a methacholine challengeto discern whether they own asthma, said Fishbein. Physicians can ister the methacholine challenge test (MCT), which is widely used to assess for airway hyperresponsiveness, a hallmark sign of asthma.
Regardless of the diagnosis or the cause of the symptoms, patients with any difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing or chest tightness should see their primary care doctor for an evaluation.
If their doctor suspects an allergic cause, patients may be referred to an allergist. If at any time breathing becomes extremely hard, patients should head straight to the emergency room.
Itchy eyes, a congested nose, sneezing, wheezing and hives: these are symptoms of an allergic reaction caused when plants release pollen into the air, generally in the spring or drop.
Numerous people use hay fever as a colloquial term for these seasonal allergies and the inflammation of the nose and airways.
But hay fever is a misnomer, said Dr. Jordan Josephson, an ear, nose and throat doctor and sinus specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
«It is not an allergy to hay,» Josephson, author of the book «Sinus Relief Now» (Perigee Trade, 2006), told Live Science. «Rather, it is an allergy to weeds that pollinate.»
Doctors and researchers prefer the phrase allergic rhinitis to describe the condition.
More than 50 million people experience some type of allergy each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In 2017, 8.1% of adults and 7.7% of children reported own allergic rhinitis symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, between 10 and 30% of people are affected by allergic rhinitis, Josephson said.
In 2019, spring arrived early in some parts of the country and later in others, according to the National Phenology Network (NPN).
Spring brings blooming plants and, for some, lots of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and runny noses. According to NPN data, spring reared its head about two weeks early in areas of California, Nevada and numerous of the Southern and Southeastern states. Much of California, for example, is preparing for a brutal allergy season due to the large quantity of winter rain. On the other hand, spring ranged from about one to two weeks tardy in the Northwest, the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic U.S.
[Watch a Massive ‘Pollen Cloud’ Explode from Late-Blooming Tree]
The most common allergen is pollen, a powder released by trees, grasses and weeds that fertilize the seeds of neighboring plants. As plants rely on the wind to do the work for them, the pollination season sees billions of microscopic particles fill the air, and some of them finish up in people’s noses and mouths.
Spring bloomers include ash, birch, cedar, elm and maple trees, plus numerous species of grass. Weeds pollinate in the tardy summer and drop, with ragweed being the most volatile.
The pollen that sits on brightly colored flowers is rarely responsible for hay fever because it is heavier and falls to the ground rather than becoming airborne.
Bees and other insects carry flower pollen from one flower to the next without ever bothering human noses.
Mold allergies are diverse. Mold is a spore that grows on rotting logs, dead leaves and grasses. While dry-weather mold species exist, numerous types of mold thrive in moist, rainy conditions, and release their spores overnight.
During both the spring and drop allergy seasons, pollen is released mainly in the morning hours and travels best on dry, warm and breezy days.