How ignoring the relationship between hayfever and asthma may be more harmful than you think.
Do you suffer from either asthma or hayfever?
If you answered yes to one, there is actually a good chance you probably suffer from both! Hayfever and asthma are much more related than we ever used to think.
Lets review the facts: In Australia, it is estimated 10% of the population has asthma and between 15-20% has allergic rhinitis. Over 75% of individuals with asthma suffer from coexisting allergic rhinitis (NACA, 2012).
In fact, some would argue they are one of the same “unified airway disease” and that airway inflammation starts with the nose.
We know bad hayfever affects asthma control and asthmatics have hayfever and treating hayfever improves asthma - the relationship between the two is indisputable ....but could continuing to treat asthma and allergic rhinitis as separate conditions or in isolation be harmful?
Once considered the “poor cousin” to asthma, but nowadays we are starting to think they are really just part of the same unified airway family. That upper airways and lower airways are part of the one airway.
Asthma seems so much more serious than hayfever – after all, hayfever means a box of tissues and an antihistamine whereas asthma can send people into emergency rooms, right?
The dark side of allergic rhinitis is it’s silent yet disturbing impact on the airway.
Given that the upper and lower airways do, after all, have the same lining, it is perhaps hardly surprising that each shows similar reactions to allergies. What you’re allergic to in your nose similarly can affect your chest.
Here is a summary of how Asthma and Allergic Rhinitis are closely linked:
- Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma.
-Allergens (eg, dust mite, mould, cat, pollen) are the most common of all asthma triggers.
– Poorly managed allergic rhinitis is commonly associated with asthma exacerbation and worse asthma control among asthmatic children and adults.
– Allergic rhinitis is an independent risk factor for the development of allergic asthma in previously non-asthmatic children and adults.
- A blocked nose from hayfever can make your asthma worse. This is a really important link to understand. Essentially patients with a blocked nose (subsequent to their hayfever) breathe through their mouth and consequently lose the air filtering, humidifying and filtering effect of normal nose breathing. Mouth breathing is normal only during speech and exercise, we are meant to breathe through our nose. Asthmatic patients who mouth breathe are therefore exposing their chest to cold dehumidified air which may aggravate their asthma.
· Ensuring allergies are properly managed is therefore very important within the management of allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma.
· Given the close association between allergic rhinitis and asthma, it is important to determine whether or not allergies are contributing to an individual’s symptoms.
· Skin prick testing and blood tests for allergen specific antibodies are the primary methods for the identification of allergic sensitivities when rhinitis or asthma is suspected to be allergy-induced.
· collective.care allergy bulk bills skin prick testing for hayfever and asthma.
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Liu et al. 2014 House Dust Mite Allergy and Ass
ociated Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy in Allergic Asthma. Immunome Research 11,1, 1-6.
National Asthma Council Australia [NACA]. 2012. Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma: Information Paper for Health Professionals. Accessed August 14, 2015, http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/uploads/publication/allergic-rhinitis-asthma-hp.pdf