Asthma and allergies: A lot in common

SOUTH BEND Asthma and allergies may be two separate conditions, but patients who suffer from the symptoms of both know the similarities are striking.

In many cases, patients will be diagnosed with both.

"I definitely notice my Asthma more when I have the allergy flares and then when I'm sick. When I get a cold my asthma flares," said Laura Szymanowski, who was diagnosed with both conditions as a teen.

"I just try to really watch for my triggers. I always have my inhaler on me."

Triggers for asthma and allergies are often the same, which is why doctors say the two go hand in hand. Pollen, dust and pets can all trigger allergic reactions. In some cases they can be severe.

Inhalers are the most common form of treatment, but area doctors are exploring new treatment options.

"There's a medication called Xolair. It's a shot that is given once or twice a month," said Dr. Christina Barnes, an allergist at the South Bend Clinic.

"Our allergy antibody is called IgE. We all have this antibody, in people who have asthma or who have allergies, it's higher. This particular medication blocks that."

Asthma now affects one in ten children and one in twelve adults, and 70% of those who have the chronic lung disease are also diagnosed with allergies.

"Those numbers are gradually increasing," said Dr. Barnes. "We know allergic disease in general, in this country especially, is gradually increasing."

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