More on the allergy/asthma connection

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Dr. Jennifer Bullock with Midwest Allergy and Immunology Associates of Central Ohio explained why allergies lead to asthma attacks:

Asthma occurs when there is chronic allergic inflammation in both the large and small airways of the lungs. This inflammation usually results from the immune system's response to allergens that are inhaled and deposited in the airways on a daily basis.

This underlying allergic inflammation makes children prone for asthma symptoms which can even be triggered by non-allergic events. This inflammation can be mild or severe, and renders the adjacent smooth muscles in the airways very "twitchy" or over-reactive.

If certain triggers are present, these muscles tighten very easily and cause narrowing of the airways, which results in asthma symptoms.

Colds, exercise, environmental tobacco smoke, pollution, and cold air are common triggers that act on top of chronic allergic inflammation to cause an asthma attack.

Allergens, especially if they are present in large concentrations, can cause acute asthma attacks. Children may have asthma attacks triggered by exposure to animal danders, or exposure to pollens or molds on days when pollen or mold counts in the air are high.