Many people think of asthma and allergies as two distinct entities, but they are closely related and often occur together.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease characterized by acute episodes of breathing problems. There are two types of asthma: non-allergic and allergic (or allergy induced). Allergic asthma is more common. Non-allergic asthma is triggered by cold or dry air, smoke, viruses, exercise or stress, for instance. Allergic asthma, on the other hand, can be triggered by the same things that cause allergic rhinitis, such as pollen.
Estimates vary, but at least 20 percent of people with allergic rhinitis develop allergic asthma, and a much higher percentage of those with asthma also have allergic rhinitis.
In fact, some researchers hypothesize that allergic rhinitis may be an early stage of what can be called “united airway disease,” which often progresses to asthma, featuring the same inflammatory processes in both the nasal passages and airways.
If you have allergic rhinitis, talk to your doctor about being tested for early signs of asthma. Effective treatment of allergic rhinitis via medication or immunotherapy can be the key to preventing the development of asthma or at least minimizing its symptoms.