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May 20, 2024· 4 minutes read

The importance of early detection and treatment of asthma and allergies

In this blog, we explore the importance of early diagnosis and how conditions can be treated to improve a patient’s general health.

Introduction to asthma and allergies

According to the Global Initiative for Asthma, asthma is a chronic disease that affects more than 260 million people worldwide.* It is also especially prevalent among children, as it is the most common chronic childhood condition and usually begins before five years of age.*

Those with asthma live with always-inflamed airways, or bronchial tubes, that are further irritated by certain triggers.* Triggers, which may include smoke, pollen, or cold air to name a few, produce symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness, making it harder to breathe.* These symptoms are what is known as an asthma flare-up or an asthma attack.* In an attack, muscles around the airways can become swollen and tight.*

Asthma can also occur from inhaling substances such as fumes or gas at work in what is known as occupational asthma, or only upon physical activity in exercise-induced asthma.*

A family history of asthma or allergies does increase the likelihood of developing asthma.*

Allergies are also a common worldwide chronic condition and affect approximately one in five people in the United States.*

Asthma and allergies overlap in what is known as allergic asthma, the most common type of asthma.* Allergic asthma occurs when allergens, such as pet dander or pollen, are inhaled, triggering asthma symptoms.*

Early detection and treatment are important for those living with asthma or allergies.

While there is no cure for asthma, it is possible to live a healthy and active life with proper diagnosis and treatment.* Diagnosis involves seeing an allergist or immunologist who will review your medical history and perform a pain-free breathing test called spirometry in which the amount and speed of air you breathe in and out are measured.* Treatment includes medication and avoiding asthma triggers when possible.*

An allergist or immunologist can also offer a diagnosis and the best treatment for those with allergies by reviewing medical history, taking skin or blood tests as needed, and providing the best treatment options.*

The consequences of undiagnosed asthma

Undiagnosed asthma can have a significant impact on quality of life. 

Without a diagnosis that leads to treatment, asthma symptoms are likely to continue and may lead to sleep disruptions, missed work, lower productivity, and exercise avoidance.* Airway inflammation is also likely which leads to an increase in asthma exacerbations and possibly the need for OCS (oral corticosteroids) and hospitalization.*

Serious long-term health implications of undiagnosed asthma may include the remodeling of airways which leads to a decline in lung function.* Other long-term issues related to uncontrolled asthma may include higher risk of infection, pregnancy complications, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and obesity.*Most significantly, there is also the risk of death.*

How can early detection improve patients’ lives? 

Early detection of asthma can significantly improve patients’ lives. Benefits of early detection includeprevention of exacerbation of symptoms, improved management and control of asthma, reduced risk of asthma attacks and allergic reactions, enhanced overall well-being and quality of life, and improved outcomes.

In fact, a UK-wide longitudinal population-based study in which more than 100,000 asthma patients were tracked for up to 50 years, showed that “more frequent exacerbations are associated with long-term lung function decline.”* The study concluded there is a “need for earlier intervention (before 40 years of age) in the management of asthma, particularly in frequently exacerbating patients who are at risk of accelerated lung function decline.”*

Since asthma is so prevalent among children, early detection also means fewer hospitalizations and school days missed.* Parents can take an active role in early detection by watching their child for common asthma symptoms, noticing what time of day these occur and what might be triggering them, and working with a health care provider on an asthma action plan.*

Promoting awareness and education 

Educating individuals, families, and healthcare providers is critical to early detection and treatment of asthma. May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, a great time to spread awareness. 

On May 7, 2024, we recognize World Asthma Day, a commemoration that began in 1998.*

This year’s theme is “Asthma Education Empowers.”* The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) recognizes how many people—those living with asthma, health care providers, policymakers, and the pharmaceutical industry— have important roles to play from managing the disease, to increasing awareness to provide the most accurate information to patients, to ensuring all countries around the world have access to proper medications.* 

One of the key issues this year in which further education is needed is the under or inaccurate diagnosis of asthma.*

For further information and support, visit:

Global Initiative for Asthma - Global Initiative for Asthma - GINA (ginasthma.org)

Kelly Sicard
Kelly Sicard

Kelly M. Sicard is a freelance writer with an M.A. in English & Creative Writing who spent over a decade working for a non-profit lung health organization. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, daughter, and black labrador and enjoys reading, writing, listening to stories, appreciating nature, and spending time with family.

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