Asthma – Part 3. Allergens.

Allergens

When a patient has been diagnosed with asthma, the subsequent step is to determine what sets off the attacks. In case, the ailment is associated with any allergy, which is generally evident from the medical history of the patient and can be corroborated by means of skin tests or radioallergosorbent test (RAST) – a blood examination. It has been found that pollen allergy is not as common in children below the age of three, in comparison to other grown-up children as well as adults, as a cause for asthma.

Allergic reactions that are set off by factors other than seasonal, for instance, mold or dust in the dwelling, can turn out to be a hitch and result in asthma at a tender age, even among infants. Some types of allergies have a vital role in developing asthma among people aged between five and 50 years. In people who are aged above 50 years, allergy is not involved in causing asthma. However, this is not true, as the rule is not inflexible. There are several people who have developed allergic asthma even in their seventies while there are many young children who suffer from asthma that is not caused by any allergic reaction.

Time and again, the medical history of a patient divulges what is responsible for asthma they are suffering from. When you visit a doctor for a check-up with symptoms of asthma, he will normally ask you if there is a history of allergies in your family. He would also like to know if your asthma attacks are more liable to happen in some precise places than others – for instance at your office, home, club and such places. Occasionally, the possible reasons behind an asthma attack are rather understandable. The patient might have spent a weekend at his home with his cat and thereafter had an asthma attack. There may also be instances when a patient’s asthma breaks out following consumption of Chinese food, which suggests that the patient is sensitive to sulfites or monosodium glutamate.

Then again, it has been found that in children who are below the age of three, food allergies have an inclination to be equally important as allergic reactions to inhalants, for instance, cat dander, dust mite allergen, pollen’s and mold spores. It has been also established that allergic reactions to inhalants are more responsible for the development of asthma in people belonging to the age group of three years to adulthood.

Food Allergies:

Usually, food allergies are related to the development of asthma during the childhood. Foodstuffs which frequently result in asthma include wheat, milk, eggs and corn. Although foods are not as responsible for developing asthma among adults, one should never ignore this factor as this is no hard and fast rule. Occasionally, it becomes difficult to identify the association between asthma and allergic reactions due to consumption of some types of food. Being sensitive to aspirin as well as other anti-inflammation medications frequently causes difficulties for patients suffering from asthma. Sensitivity to food additives/ preservatives, such as sulfites and FD&C Yellow #5 (also known as tartrazine) is another important reason for the occasional development of asthma among adults. These additives are generally used to color and preserve an assortment of foodstuff, including potato chips, salad dressing, cider, beer and others.

Other Allergens:

In addition to allergens like dust, mold spores, pollen as well as food allergies, there are several other allergens that may be responsible for asthma. In fact, you ought to be conscious that you may develop asthma owing to the usage of certain things in your office or things that you may use as a hobby. In fact, there happens to be a phenomenon or occurrence known as the bakers’ asthma, which is caused by sensitivity to flour. There was a patient who endured asthma attacks on a weekly basis, which the doctors and the patient finally identified as always occurring one or two hours after she had dried her family laundry. It was found that this patient, a lady, was very susceptible to the fabric softener. Later, when her family started using a less soft laundry, the patient did not suffer from any further asthma attacks.

Apart from different allergens, there are a number of medications that deteriorate the condition of asthma patients. Hence, it is pertinent that your doctor ought to be always aware of any medication that you may be taking quite often.

Aspergillus:

An infection by the Aspergillus fungus may make asthma a critically difficult case. Aspergillus is a widespread fungus that is generally concerned with the type of the ailment known as baker’s asthma. This fungus has the aptitude to reproduce in polluted and humid conditions. It may be noted that infections caused by Aspergillus fungus generally have an effect on only those persons who are debilitated from before. For instance, people having anomalous immune systems or cancer are more prone to develop asthma. It may be mentioned that allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillus (ABPA) may develop into moderate or mild asthma, which may prove to be a fatal ailment even if the patient does not suffer from any other grave health problems.

Basically, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillus is an allergic effect to Aspergillus fungi that is developing in the bronchial tubes. When this occurs, all of a sudden the asthma patient starts requiring doses of steroids more often with a view to preventing the breathing problems and develops a fever. In addition, sometimes they also cough up brown colored phlegm. When a chest X-ray is conducted on such patients, it is possible to reveal that the patient has symptoms of pneumonia.

In case the ailment is not diagnosed in time, the disease is likely to advance to the extent that the lungs of the patient would become scarred (fibrotic). In such cases, use of steroids would not be of any help in relieving the symptoms of asthma. The patient will endure persistent breathing problems as in the case of emphysema and may finally breathe his last owing to the ailment.

In this case, the doctor will make the diagnosis of the ailment depending on the clinical history of the disease. It will be confirmed that the patient is suffering from the disease when the skin testing for susceptibility to Aspergillus fumigatus will prove to be positive; there will be the presence of IgE in the blood; the tests show an extreme concentration of antibodies to Aspergillus fumigatus and a high eosinophil count. In the end, even a bronchogram or a CAT scan may possibly show some parts of the lungs air passages are extended abnormally.

It may be noted that the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus is quite widespread in the basements as well as crawl spaces. Since this variety of fungus increases in a soil, it is mostly present in basements that have dirty floors. Therefore, it is important to pay particular attention to the air-conditioning as well as the humidifying systems present in such places. Moreover, any asthma patient who needs to be exposed to Aspergillus-related to flour or grain might require changing his/ her job.

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is one disease which is occasionally related to asthma. In effect, ABPA is a health condition marked by an inflated reaction of the immune system, which may occasionally be distinguished by taking an X-ray of the chest or by blood tests. When an individual is suffering from ABPA, he/ she also has the fever during asthma attacks. This ailment is caused by a fungus known as Aspergillus fumigatus and in such cases, the treatment needs to have a rather different approach.