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Food Allergy and it’s relationship with Asthma

Food allergy is an adverse reaction to a specific food that is triggered by the interaction of an allergy antibody with that specific food.

Asthma is a risk factor for more severe reactions in people who are experiencing a food allergy attack.

Having asthma combined with food allergies can be very tough.  The fact is that if you suffer from both asthma and allergic reactions to foods, you need to know how they can interact with each other.  Nonetheless, food allergy is a very rare trigger for asthma unless a full blown anaphylactic reaction is occurring.

Understanding Asthma

Asthma is actually a disorder in which there is an inflammation in the airways that can and does affect breathing.  When someone has an asthma attack, the bronchial tubes become constricted because the muscles that surround them start to have spasms.  The inflammation produces swelling of the bronchial tubes and increases mucus production inside the tubes, all of which causes the opening of the tubes to be narrower.  Some people get mild symptoms only when they are ill or after exercising, while others can have severe and frequent asthma attacks.  Some triggers for asthma are more common than others.  These triggers include:

  • Respiratory infection
  • Stress
  • Exertion
  • Particulate irritants and matter such as dust, air pollution, cigarette smoke, and allergens.

Foods that Trigger Asthma

About 3% of all asthmatics are sulfite sensitive.  These people primarily react to sulfites that are in acidic beverages.  Reactions to sulfites that are in processed foods are much less common, possibly with the exception of dried fruits.

Complications from Asthma and Food Allergies

The respiratory symptoms that occur with anaphylaxis are much more common in people who suffer from asthma.  In fact, asthma that is “poorly controlled” has been called a primary factor when it comes to anaphylactic deaths.  This is especially true with children.

Additionally, remember that symptoms of asthma and the early anaphylaxis symptoms may be similar.  If someone has an asthma attack that seems to not respond quickly to their usual rescue medication, they may be in the early stages of anaphylaxis.  This would be an extremely rare occurrence.  The vast majority of anaphylaxis of patients who are wheezing are also having hives or vomiting or swelling of the face at the same time.  If this ever happens to you or someone you know, follow your doctor’s instructions for epinephrine and then get emergency assistance or call the Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center immediately.

Anyone who suffers from both food allergies and asthma needs to work closely with a doctor in order to develop a plan to control the asthma.  In most cases, this will include a combination of asthma medications and information on how to avoid or accommodate to triggers.

Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center

Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center has been proudly serving residents in and around the Charlotte area since 1952. With a talented and professional staff made up exclusively of physicians who are board-certified by the American Board of Allergy & Immunology, Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center hopes to give back to the community it loves so much through things like food allergy testing, preventative medicine and more. Contact Us Today for more information or to schedule an appointment!