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  Shelby Leith   April 1, 2017   Allergies, Asthma/Emphysema, Allergy 0 Comments

Allergies vs. asthma: Giving you the facts

Velocity Care explains the differences between these two similar conditions as you enter this year’s allergy and asthma season

Be aware of allergy and asthama differences.

Allergies and asthma are conditions that affect the respiratory system, and they often have similar symptoms and triggers. Both conditions are extremely common throughout the United States, with an estimated 18 million Americans suffering from allergies each year and nearly 1 in 12 people (or 25 million Americans) experiencing asthma.

Since both asthma and allergies share many of the same characteristics, it’s often difficult to tell the two apart. Today, we will look at the most common symptoms and defining factors for these conditions to help you distinguish the differences between them.


Any type of substance can cause an allergy, and what causes an allergic reaction in one person may have absolutely no effect on another. An allergy occurs when your body’s immune system malfunctions and mistakenly identifies something as a threat. When the allergen comes into contact with your body (through contact with the skin or by eating it or breathing it in), it produces a chemical called histamine to fight the threat. Histamines are responsible for the allergic reaction that your body experiences. They cause you to have the common symptoms of an allergy, which include:

  • Red, itchy, watery eyes.
  • Runny nose.
  • Hives, rashes and itchy skin.
  • Sneezing.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Coughing and wheezing.

Some people are extremely allergic to certain substances, and the allergic reaction that they experience is much more severe. This type of reaction is called anaphylaxis and can be deadly if not treated immediately. The common symptoms for anaphylaxis include:

  • Swelling of the mouth, tongue and throat.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Tightness in the chest, wheezing and coughing.

Any substance can have the potential to cause an allergic reaction, but some of the most common allergy triggers are:

  • Pollen.
  • Mold.
  • Pet dander.
  • Nuts.
  • Dairy products.
  • Insect stings and bites.
  • Poisonous plants.
  • Household chemicals, detergent and cleaners.


Asthma is the chronic inflammation of a person’s airways. It’s a respiratory condition that affects the bronchi of the lungs and can make breathing very difficult. In someone with asthma, the respiratory tract is red, inflamed and swollen, and certain triggers can make these conditions worse. When this occurs, the airways swell even more or fill with mucus, making breathing extremely difficult or causing spasms and fits of coughing. In some people, the symptoms of asthma are mild, but others can experience very severe bouts. The most common symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Tightness in the chest.
  • Coughing and wheezing.

The actual cause of asthma is still unknown, but many different factors can trigger it, such as:

  • Pollen.
  • Dust.
  • Pet dander.
  • Cold air.
  • High levels of smog or pollution.
  • Respiratory infections like a cold.
  • Medications.
  • Stress.
  • Physical activity.
  • Sulfites and preservatives found in foods.

As you can see, both allergies and asthma have many of the same symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing and tightness in the chest, and the same triggers can bring on both conditions. Luckily, in the care of a good doctor, you can manage both of these conditions. Allergy tablets, nasal sprays, puffers and asthma medications can help to keep all your symptoms under control and minimize the frequency and severity of future episodes.

If you would like further information on allergies, download Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center’s newest e-book How Allergies Impact Your Life in Louisiana and Arkansas. This helpful book will explain what allergies are, their common causes and symptoms and what you can do to help prevent allergies as this year’s allergy season quickly approaches.

At Velocity Care, we strive to provide the most valid and current information on the health care topics that are most important to individuals living in the Arkansas and Louisiana areas. Our blog posts and e-books aim to educate and inform, and we staff our conveniently located urgent care clinics with the best doctors and nurses and the most up-to-date technology to provide the best possible care for you and your family. For more information on how we can help you, visit our website today.

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Medical disclaimer

This site offers medical, health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. General information found on this website is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your health care professional.  If reading after hours, one option for treatment is to seek an urgent care or  walk-in clinic for medical advice. 

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