Asthma is a disease that affects the respiratory system. During an asthma attack, people have difficulty breathing because the airways constrict and extra mucus is produced. People typically end up coughing and wheezing as they struggle to draw breaths.
Allergies are caused by the immune system mistaking something that is benign as a threat to the body. The immune system begins fighting the perceived threat, which itself is actually not harmful. Depending on the severity and type of allergies, the immune system’s actions may produce hives, watery eyes, a runny nose, itching, or other symptoms.
While any medical doctor is qualified to diagnose asthma and allergies, primary care physicians are often the first to recognize the symptoms of both asthma and allergies. Patients may mention the symptoms during a routine visit or schedule an appointment with their primary care physician specifically to discuss their symptoms. Allergies are a potential risk factor that increases a person’s chances of developing asthma, so primary care physicians frequently check for both asthma and allergies if a patient mentions symptoms that are consistent with either.
Asthma and allergies are both treated with medication. The type of medication used and the way it’s administered varies, though. Asthma is typically treated with prescription medication that’s administered either via an inhaler or through injections. Some asthma medications have steroids in them, but others don’t. Allergies are frequently treated with over-the-counter medication or prescription medication that’s taken orally, or with shots. Allergy shots are often given about once a week to start with and then less frequently as the treatment progresses. Before administering shots, a doctor will first order allergy testing to see which types of allergies they should be treating with the injections.