Allergies and asthma are part of a continual spectrum of the body’s immune system reacting to harmless allergens.

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : February 10, 2023 4:22 PM IST

Allergies are the body's inappropriate reaction towards any allergen, a harmless substance in the environment that troubles only those whose bodies react to it. Dr Soundarya, Paediatrics Allergy Specialist at KMC Hospital, Mangalore, says that allergies are common and colloquially used by ordinary people when they have itchy skin, nose, or eye reactions.


On the other hand, this is what worries parents and children alike. The term asthma has been denoted as long-term lung involvement with persistent coughing and wheezing. The main question asked by all is "Are these two conditions related?" and "Does having an allergy mean the child will eventually progress to develop asthma".

Specific Pollens

Even while the Greeks and Romans recorded allergic reactions in the 1800s, when hay fever was first defined, the current era of the study of allergens began with Dr John Bostock in 1819. Hay fever is typically a runny nose, sneezing, and nasal itching with a blocked nose in the harvesting season or upon exposure to specific pollens.

This Is What We Know Now As Allergic Rhinitis

  • Any patient with trouble breathing was considered to have asthma because the word "asthma" comes from the Greek word for shortness of breath.
  • This term was refined in the latter part of a treatise by Henry Hyde Salter entitled "On Asthma and its Treatment".
  • Salter described asthma as "Paroxysmal dyspnoea of a peculiar type with intervals of healthy breathing between attacks" in this academic article.
  • This described asthma clinically, wherein the attacks came on suddenly and had disease-free intervals in between.

Risk For Asthma

Allergies also worsen with pollution and exposure to volatile chemicals and smoke.

  • Therefore, children with nasal itching, block and sneezing, and runny nose are said to have allergic rhinitis, while those with a wet cough that does not seem to go away and also breathlessness when the cough worsens are said to be at risk for asthma.
  • Furthermore, as the airway is a unified pathway, the lungs and lower airways in the chest react even to allergens in the upper airway(nose).
  • Hence, the appropriate diagnosis of allergic rhinitis and correct treatment of the same help prevent the development of asthma.
  • The airway is a continuous passage from the nose to the lung. Therefore, this is another area where preventive measures can be instituted, and asthma can be prevented by reducing exposure to indoor and outdoor pollutants.

In conclusion

  • Over the 19th and 20th centuries, clinicians working independently on allergy (hay fever) and asthma found that some hay fever can worsen and develop life-threatening asthma-like breathlessness in some people.
  • This was when the relationship between allergy and asthma began to appear. And now, in the 21st century, the link between allergies and asthma has been established. These two diseases are part of the 'Atopic March' continuum.
  • Allergies and asthma are part of a continual spectrum of the body's immune system reacting to harmless allergens. That said, appropriate diagnosis, trigger identification and avoidance of pollutants can go a long way in preventing every asthma allergy progression.

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