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Is Asthma an Allergy? What Makes Them Different From One Another?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Feb 18, 2023

Is Asthma an Allergy? What Makes Them Different From One Another?

Allergies and asthma are conditions that can have similar symptoms. In fact, asthma and certain allergies can be triggered by the same thing. But is asthma an allergy? What are the similarities between the two, and what makes them different from each other?

What is Asthma?

Before we talk about how allergies and asthma are related, we first need to understand what these conditions are. Let us first talk about what asthma is.

Asthma is a condition wherein an asthma trigger causes a person’s airways to start to swell and thicken, making them narrower. As the airways become narrower, this in turn makes breathing more difficult. In some cases, this is followed by the production of mucus in the airways. This also adds to difficulty breathing, and can also trigger coughing fits1.

The severity of asthma attacks can also vary from person to person. Some might find it to cause minor discomfort, and they can readily manage their condition with minimal medication. But for others, asthma attacks can be severe, and can even become fatal if they don’t take their medication when an attack happens.

At the moment, there is still no single cure for asthma. It’s a chronic condition that patients have to live with for long. However, there are various methods that people can take advantage of in order to manage it. These methods include lifestyle changes, being mindful of asthma triggers, and taking asthma medication as necessary for relief and further control.

What are Allergies?

Allergies are a reaction to what the body perceives as “invaders”2 regardless of whether or not there is a real threat. During an allergy attack, a foreign invader or an “allergen” triggers the body’s immune response as a defense. Because of this, the immune system sends out antibodies to deal with the allergen. Along with the antibodies, the body also sends out histamines, which are responsible for the symptoms associated with allergies.

Just like asthma, allergies can either be mild, or severe. Mild allergies cause minor discomfort such as itchiness, sneezing, etc. More severe reactions can result in swelling of the throat, or the more deadly anaphylactic shock.

Similarly, allergies can’t be cured. However, avoiding the allergens, or taking allergy medication can help people manage their allergies better.

Is Asthma an Allergy?

The reason why some people think that asthma is an allergy is that they can have similar symptoms as well as triggers. For example, dust, pollen, or pet dander can trigger both an allergic reaction as well as an asthma attack. Additionally, allergies and asthma can also happen at the same time3. Statistically, people with allergies are also more prone to having asthma, which might be the reason why people associate the two fairly often.

However, asthma itself is indirectly allergy. It’s more of the body’s response to certain stimuli, which in this case, are asthma triggers. Their symptoms can also be different, as a runny nose and sneezing is not typically a symptom of asthma, but it is a symptom of an allergic reaction.

However, there is such a thing as an allergy-triggered asthma. In fact, this is the most common type of asthma. As the name suggests, this asthma can be triggered by an allergic reaction. This type of asthma can be triggered by an existing allergic reaction, though it can also be directly triggered by other things such as cigarette smoke or polluted air.

As far as treatment goes, certain types of medication work well for both asthma and allergies. Allergy shots, anti-immunoglobulin e (IgE) therapy, and leukotriene modifier work well for both asthma and allergies.

Key Takeaways

At the end of the day, it is important to not disregard any symptoms of asthma or allergies. While these conditions are typically mild, they can also be severe and can become fatal if not managed well.

Learn more about Allergies here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Feb 18, 2023

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