Categorized | Skin Care

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Allergies Or Asthma? 5 Symptoms That Can Help You Tell the Difference

Knowing the difference between allergies and asthma can be critical both in the long term control of the condition, avoidance of triggers, as well as preventing more serious and sometimes life threatening situations. Both asthma and allergies can be caused by similar symptoms, and can prove to be serious in the long term if not treated correctly.  

With such similarities in symptoms, it can sometimes be hard to identify what the cause is or even whether the issue is allergy-related or asthma-related. Simply because someone is wheezing or having difficulty breathing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are asthmatic or suffering from an asthma attack. However, some asthmatics can find that their breathing difficulties are triggered by the same irritants that cause certain allergies. So how can you tell the difference between the two?  Here are 5 symptoms that will help you answer that question more clearly.  

1. Watery eyes. Although not all allergies will result in the patient suffering from wet or watery eyes, in many cases this is the case. This is the body’s natural way of trying to flush out any irritants. In cases where the patient has an allergy, this attempt by the body to flush out irritants becomes a massive over reaction, and so it may be that the eyes water almost uncontrollably for apparently no reason.   A small quantity of pollen or dust in the air could be all that is required to trigger the reaction. Watery eyes are clearly indicative of an allergic reaction. However, asthmatics do not suffer from watery eyes, unless it is combined with an allergic reaction.  

2. Itchy or irritated skin. If the patient suffers from itchy skin, either with or without the breathing difficulty at the same time, then this is also highly suggestive of the body over reacting to some form or allergen stimulus. Skin irritations can be very local, such as the soft part of the underarm, the back of the hands, or certain parts of the face. This itchiness can become quite uncontrollable and may lead to the patient actually damaging the surface of the skin, making it appear red over time.  

Asthmatics do tend to be more prone to eczema however, and so it is important to try to identify the difference between an allergic reaction which causes the skin to be itchy and damaged, and eczema which may cause the same symptoms. Try to identify whether the breathing difficulty occurs at the same time as the itchiness. If itchiness and damaged skin occurs for longer periods, and the breathing difficulty does not always occur at the same time, then it is more suggestive that it is asthma and eczema rather than an allergic reaction.  

3. Runny nose. This is perhaps one of the easiest ways of identifying the difference between asthma and an allergic reaction, as it is one of the body’s primary ways of trying to flush out and trap allergens such as pollen or dust. Breathing difficulties combined with excess mucus are indicative of allergies.  

4. Discharge from ears. If you notice excess discharge from the ears this is also a more subtle, and perhaps more easily missed way of identifying whether the breathing difficulty experienced is caused by the body’s over reaction to an allergen, or whether it is asthma. Any excess discharge should be investigated by a doctor – don’t try to deal with this at home or you could end up pushing it further up the ear canal causing damage.  

5. Flaky skin. If you notice flaking skin anywhere on the body, such as the arms, face or head, this may be an allergen based issue rather than asthma.  Asthma tends to have very few if any secondary symptoms, but if flaky skin occurs in conjunction with allergy-based symptoms, then it tends to point to allergies. Flaky skin can demonstrate the body’s intolerance to a certain substance – either a chemical, washing powder, cleaning agent or food.  

Asthma can be caused by a wide range of conditions such as exercise, cold air, laughing, stress, strong odours, smoke or humid air.  If breathing difficulty tends to occur in response to one of these conditions, and generally occurs on its own without any secondary symptoms then it more likely to be asthma rather than allergies.

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