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The Link Between Allergies and Bronchitis

Millions of people suffer from allergies and the symptoms can affect your daily quality of life. But have your allergies ever led to bronchitis? While these are two separate conditions, there is a strong link between the two. In this blog, we’ll be exploring the connection between allergies and bronchitis, and we’ll discuss ways to manage and treat both conditions.

Understanding Allergy Symptoms

First, let’s dive into allergies and the symptoms you may experience. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Congestion
  • Hives
  • Rashes
  • Worsened asthma symptoms if you have asthma

Allergic reactions can sometimes become serious, leading to anaphylactic shock. If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, swelling, especially in the mouth, face and throat or any other serious symptoms you should seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Allergy symptoms may be seasonal or year-round, depending on the allergen. Seasonal allergies are typically caused by pollen from trees, grass or weeds. Year-round allergies are typically from indoor allergens such as pet dander, mold or dust mites. Food, insect stings and drug allergies are also common.

It’s also good to be aware of the fact that allergies can come on at any time. While you may have not been allergic to an allergen previously, you may develop allergies later in life.

What Are the Causes?

Allergies occur when your immune system mistakes a harmless substance, or allergen, for an invader. This reaction causes your immune system to release antibodies, which release chemicals like histamine, leading to allergy symptoms. 

Numerous allergens can trigger this immune response. The most common allergens include:

  • Airborne allergens — Airborne allergens include any small particulate that you can breathe in, such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, pollution and mold.
  • Food allergies — Some people are allergic to specific foods. Some common food allergies are fruit allergies, vegetable allergies, shellfish allergies, nut allergies, dairy allergies and gluten allergies. Food allergies can range from mild, such as a scratchy feeling in the mouth or an upset stomach, to life-threatening.
  • Drug allergies — Some people are allergic to specific medications, commonly penicillin or penicillin-based antibiotics.
  • Insect stings — Some people may be allergic to the venom in an insect sting, with bee and wasp sting allergies being the most common.
  • Skin allergies — Some substances, such as latex, can cause an allergic reaction when they make contact with the skin.

It’s important to be aware of your allergen triggers, so you can avoid them as best you can.

What Is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a common respiratory condition where the bronchial tubes are inflamed. These tubes are the airways that carry air to the lungs. Bronchitis can be acute, meaning it typically subsides in a week or so, or chronic.

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viral infections, such as the flu or common cold. The main symptom of acute bronchitis is a persistent cough that can last for weeks. Symptoms may also include chest congestion, wheezing, mucus and shortness of breath.

Chronic bronchitis is a condition that is part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is usually brought on by long-term exposure to irritants such as tobacco smoke or air pollution.

What Is the Relationship Between Allergies and Bronchitis?

While acute bronchitis is usually brought on by a viral infection like the common cold or influenza, allergies can also increase your risk of developing acute bronchitis. If you’re often exposed to your allergens, it can cause increased inflammation in your respiratory system. This may inflame the bronchial tubes, making you more susceptible to developing bronchitis. 

While having allergies doesn’t guarantee that you’ll develop bronchitis, it’s still good to be aware of your increased risk. This way, you can mitigate your exposure to airborne irritants and allergens and decrease your risk of developing bronchitis. In any case, both allergies and bronchitis can be managed with proper treatment, so it’s also good to be aware of the symptoms you may experience.

When To Seek Medical Attention

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of allergies or bronchitis, it’s a good idea to speak with your health care provider. Both conditions can be managed with the proper treatment plan. 

Allergies can typically be managed through OTC medication and avoidance but we recommend that you still discuss your symptoms with a health care provider. You should seek emergency medical attention if you have a severe allergic reaction. Severe allergic reactions can sometimes be fatal if left untreated.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Both allergies and bronchitis can be diagnosed, and the symptoms can be managed. Consulting a health care professional can help you determine the best symptom management plan for your needs.

For allergies, your health care provider will likely refer you to an allergy specialist who would perform skin prick tests or blood tests to determine your allergy triggers. Once your allergen is identified, you can work on methods to mitigate exposure. Your doctor may also recommend OTC allergy medications or provide stronger prescription medications if deemed necessary. Another option for treatment may be allergy drops or allergy shots, which can reduce your immune system’s overreaction to certain allergens.

For bronchitis, your health care provider will likely perform a physical examination with a stethoscope. They may also recommend tests like chest X-rays, sputum tests or pulmonary function tests. If you have acute bronchitis, treatment will involve rest, staying hydrated and possibly some medications to manage cough and congestion. Antibiotics may be recommended if it is a bacterial infection. If you have chronic bronchitis, your treatment plan may involve treatments such as inhaler medication and pulmonary rehabilitation.

Don’t hesitate to seek a proper diagnosis and treatment if your symptoms are impacting your life. A health care professional can guide you toward the most appropriate treatment options and help you manage both allergies and bronchitis effectively.

Book an appointment with a Circle Medical telehealth provider today!

For allergies or bronchitis, the first step to getting a diagnosis is to speak with a primary care provider. Circle Medical is a full-stack primary care clinic that offers both online and in-person care. Meaning, if you prefer, you can get your diagnosis and treatment plan from the comfort of your own home with our telehealth services. Of course, if you prefer in-person care, you can start that too. If you’re ready to speak with a primary care provider today, simply book a same-day appointment with one of our telehealth health care providers. Get started on your journey to better health!

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