Achoo! Is it Seasonal Allergies or Asthma?

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Guest blogger: Karen R.. Compliance, Quality and Clinical Program Specialist

Flowers are blooming and Spring allergies are too. It is not just pollen you need to worry about, allergy symptoms could trigger asthma attacks. While allergies do no automatically mean you have asthma, and everyone experiences symptoms differently, it is important to recognize and treat these symptoms.

Seasonal Allergies

The arrival of Spring is often a time when many people experience seasonal allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America identify several types of allergies below.1

  • Pollen: one of the most common triggers of seasonal allergies, also known as “hay fever.” Experts usually refer to pollen allergy as “seasonal allergic rhinitis.”
  • Grasses: the most common cause of allergy. Ragweed is a main cause of weed allergies, but other common sources include sagebrush, pigweed, lamb’s quarters and tumbleweed. Certain species of trees, including birch, cedar and oak, also produce highly allergenic pollen.

Good allergy treatment is based on your medical history, the results of your allergy tests and how severe your symptoms are. It can include three treatment types: avoiding allergens, medicine options and/or immunotherapy (allergens given as a shot or placed under the tongue).  There are many safe prescription and over-the-counter medicines to relieve allergy symptoms.

The best way to prevent allergy symptoms and limit your need for allergy medicine is to avoid your allergens as much as possible. This includes removing the source of allergens from your home and other places you spend time. You can also reduce your symptoms to airborne allergens by washing out your nose daily. You can do this by using a nasal saline rinse using a squeeze bottle or a Neti pot. Talk to your doctor before you start rinsing.


Asthma is more severe than seasonal allergies—it is a disease that affects the airways and makes it difficult to breathe.  When the air passages become inflamed, the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs become narrowed. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing.

You should visit your health care provider to find out if you have asthma.  Your doctor may perform a physical exam along with diagnostic tests, i.e., chest x-ray or test your lung function. In addition, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you or may even refer you to an allergist for management of your condition.


Identifying asthma triggers is essential in prevention and management of the disease.  Below is a list of triggers identified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.2


Asthma Treatment3

Take your medicine exactly as your doctor tells you and stay away from things that can trigger an attack to control your asthma.  Everyone with asthma does not take the same medicine.  You can breathe in some medicines and take other medicines as a pill. Asthma medicines come in two types—quick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack. If you need to use your quick-relief medicines more and more, visit your doctor to see if you need a different medicine. Long-term control medicines help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they don’t help you while you are having an asthma attack.

Asthma medicines can have side effects, but most side effects are mild and soon go away. Ask your doctor about the side effects of your medicines.

Remember – you can control your asthma. With your health care provider’s help, make your own asthma action plan. Decide who should have a copy of your plan and where he or she should keep it. Take your long-term control medicine even when you don’t have symptoms.

If you need assistance finding a provider to help diagnose and treat your seasonal allergies or asthma, visit our Provider directory at

1AAFA, A. a. (2016). Types of Allergies. Retrieved from AAFA, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:

2AAFA, A. a. (2016). What Causes Asthma Triggers. Retrieved from AAFA, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:
3CDC, C. f. (2017, January). Learn How to Control Asthma. Retrieved from CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:


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