Allergic rhinitis and asthma

Many people have both allergic rhinitis and asthma. If you have an allergy, you are more likely to get asthma, and allergic rhinitis can make your asthma symptoms worse if you already have asthma. When asthma is made worse by allergies, it is known as allergic asthma.

Some experts now consider the two conditions to be one inflammatory disease involving a common airway rather than two distinct diseases. Research is ongoing. Four ideas on how allergic rhinitis and asthma might be linked are as follows:

  • Inflammation and irritation of the nasal passages cause a reflex reaction within the lungs, perhaps through nerve pathways.
  • Relatively cold, dry air stimulates asthma symptoms when allergic rhinitis sufferers must breathe in through their mouths because they have stuffy noses.
  • Drainage from the nose caused by allergic rhinitis irritates the airways in the lungs.
  • Cells that trigger inflammation or chemicals that cause inflammation travel through the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the lungs.

Last Updated: July 2, 2009

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