Untreated allergies can make asthma worse by causing inflammation in the lungs that can lead to an asthma attack. The same allergens that trigger allergy flares—like dust mites, pollen, mold, and pet dander—can also trigger an asthma attack, which is why it's important to get allergies under control sooner than later.
Caitlin Whyte: Untreated allergies can make asthma worse by causing inflammation in the lungs that can lead to an asthma attack. The same allergens that trigger allergy flares, like dust mites, pollen, mold, and pet dander can also trigger an asthma attack, which is why it's important to get allergies under control sooner rather than later. Joining us to talk all things asthma and allergies is Dr. William Storms, an allergist at Aspire Allergy & Sinus.
This is Achoo!, the podcast for people with allergies and sinus issues from Aspire Allergy and Sinus. I'm your host, Caitlin Whyte. So doctor, millions of children in the US are affected by allergies and asthma. How do I know if my child might have one of these conditions?
William Storms, MD: Well, these allergies can start very early at the age two or three or four with recurrent ear infections. But then as we get a little older, four, five, six, seven, then we see sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, snoring, coughing and post-nasal drip. And those are typical signs of allergies and they usually start out seasonal, spring or summer, but then we get it all-year round as well.
Caitlin Whyte: Now, why is it so important to be vigilant about treatment and monitoring allergies when we have asthma, even if symptoms are mild?
William Storms, MD: Yeah. It's very important to make sure your child's allergies are controlled. And it's not just because of the sneezing and the itchiness, because of all the general systemic effects that can occur. For instance, kids with allergies don't sleep well. Their nose is stuffy. They may itch. Interrupted sleep leads to fatigue the next day, tiredness, lack of concentration. It's been shown that kids with allergies actually have poor school performance compared to kids that don't have allergies. And it may affect their physical activity. And they may not want to go to sports, they may not want to play. They may just feel kind of bummed, fatigued.
Caitlin Whyte: Is there any difference in treatment when it comes to kids who have allergies and asthma?
William Storms, MD: Well, the treatment for allergies and asthma are different. And be aware that in kids, asthma is allergic, it's caused by allergies. So, for general allergies, we are talking about the nose and the eyes and all that. It's anti-histamines and nasal sprays. For asthma, it's inhalers.
Now, if you have allergies alone as a child, you're more likely to get asthma when you're a little older or chronic sinus trouble or chronic rhinitis. So it's important to treat the allergies to make sure not only the kid feels better at that time, but to prevent other issues in the future.
The other important thing about treating allergies, I mentioned medications, they just suppress the symptoms. They don't fix the allergy. So we have allergy shots, so we have allergy drops that builds up immunity to the allergies. It's an immunization with the things they are allergic to, pollens, dust, animals.
Caitlin Whyte: Now, let's talk about seasonal allergies. While they're not life-threatening, they can certainly negatively impact quality of life. Tell us about those.
William Storms, MD: Well, the seasonal allergies can make you feel tired. And then you take an anti-histamine, you're even more tired. They can affect school performance. They can affect sleep, which is a big issue, because if you don't get good REM sleep, then the next day, you're just not feeling normal.
Caitlin Whyte: And wrapping up here, doctor, is there anything else you'd like to add when it comes to allergies and asthma?
William Storms, MD: Well, first thing is identify the allergies by getting to an allergist and do some skin test, then you know how to treat it, you know the right medicine and then consider allergy shots or allergy drops.
Caitlin Whyte: Well, thank you so much for the information today, doctor. That was Dr. William Storms, an allergist here at Aspire Allergy & Sinus. Find more information about us online at aspireallergy.com. This has been Achoo!, the podcast for people with allergies and sinus issues from Aspire Allergy & Sinus. I'm Caitlin Whyte. Thanks for joining us.
Dr. William Storms has practiced in Colorado Springs & Pueblo since 1975 and is a past Clinical Professor at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He practices clinical allergy and clinical research at The William Storms Allergy Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.