October 31, 2022

Signs You Could Have Allergic Asthma

You’ll likely have symptoms of both allergies and asthma at once

Person sneezing and wheezing inside home.

Tired of constantly sneezing? Allergies alone can make you pretty miserable. But sometimes, what triggers allergies can wreak even more havoc — in the form of asthma.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

When you develop sneezing, wheezing and shortness of breath all at once, you may have allergic asthma. Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma, affecting about 25 million people in the United States.

Allergist and immunologist Ronald Purcell, MD, explains what allergic asthma is and how to manage your symptoms.

What is allergic asthma?

So, what is allergic asthma? When your allergies combine with asthma, it’s known as allergic asthma. This causes your airways to tighten whenever you breathe in an allergen.

While many different allergens can trigger allergic asthma, they all have one thing in common: They’re in the environment, not in your food or your medication.

These can include:

If pollen or mold trigger the condition, it may occur only seasonally. If your pets or the dust mites on your bedding trigger it, you may have symptoms year-round, Dr. Purcell notes.

Signs and symptoms

So, what allergic asthma symptoms should you look for?

Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, affects your nose and sinuses. It may cause the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing.
  • Congestion.
  • Itchy nose and eyes.

Asthma mainly affects your lungs. It may cause the following symptoms:

  • Coughing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Chest tightness.
  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing.

But when you have allergic asthma, you’ll likely develop both sets of symptoms at once.

In children, the symptoms of allergic asthma can be more subtle, notes Dr. Purcell. Kids might say they’re too tired to play, but parents should check for wheezing or coughing.

“If the other kids are running around playing, and your child wants to sit on the sidelines, they may be having trouble breathing,” he says.

How to help treat and manage symptoms

Allergy testing can help identify what’s triggering your allergies. Additional testing can help to confirm a diagnosis of asthma.

Once you know you have allergic asthma, identifying and avoiding its triggers will help you control your symptoms.

“When possible, take measures to prevent or minimize exposure,” advises Dr. Purcell.

The same methods won’t work for all allergy triggers. For example, “dust mites aren’t airborne — but cat and dog dander is,” he says.

To reduce allergens in your home, Dr. Purcell recommends:

  • Using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce airborne triggers.
  • Minimizing or eliminating pet exposure.
  • Using special dust mite covers on bedding and aiming for indoor humidity levels of 35% to minimize dust mite exposure.
  • Eliminating food sources for cockroaches by using sealed food containers and regularly cleaning kitchen floors and surfaces.
  • Changing clothes and showering after you come inside if you’re allergic to pollen, and closing doors and windows when pollen counts are high.

Although mold is more of an outdoor allergen, it can develop indoors if there’s an unwanted source of moisture (plumbing, roof or basement leaks are common sources of water intrusion).


“Addressing the water leak, then using a diluted bleach solution or a commercial cleaning product is usually sufficient,” says Dr. Purcell. “Extensive mold intrusion may require a professional mold removal service.”

But is allergic asthma dangerous? The good news is that today’s allergic asthma treatments — mainly medication and inhalers — are very effective.

“They’re relatively easy to use and have minimal side effects,” Dr. Purcell says. “When symptoms are more severe or don’t respond to other measures, allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) is very effective.”

One option that shouldn’t be on the table is letting allergic asthma ruin your quality of life.

“The goal is to manage your condition so that it never limits the activities you love because they trigger an allergic reaction,” says Dr. Purcell.

Working with your doctor will help you find a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Related Articles

An illustration of a person's head being examined by a doctor and another person carrying nasal spray
July 6, 2022
Nasal Spray for Allergies: What to Know and How to Choose

They’re the best way to manage your seasonal allergies

woman considering allergy medications
June 14, 2022
Which Allergy Medicine Works Best?

An allergist explains your over-the-counter options and combos

family roasting marshmallows around firepit
May 26, 2021
Fire Pits, Bonfires and Your Lungs: Safety Tips to Follow

Some tips to make your next fire safer

woman looking out rainy window
January 25, 2021
3 Health Conditions That Stormy Weather Can Make Worse

A rainy day can spell pain and discomfort for many

child wearing scarf over face in winter
December 1, 2020
How To Manage Winter Asthma

Plus, 7 ways to avoid asthma attacks during cold weather

asthma and flu check using spirometer
November 19, 2020
Why Asthma Puts You at Greater Risk This Flu Season

Infections, like the flu, are a common asthma trigger

Cleaning mold in bathroom
November 18, 2020
Mold: What You Need to Know to Cut Your Risk

Practical tips to limit breathing trouble

vacumming carpets to provide allergy relief
October 1, 2020
How To Reduce Asthma Triggers When You’re Spending a Lot of Time Inside

Plus, 8 ways to asthma-proof your home

Trending Topics

group of hands holding different beverages
November 14, 2023
10 Myths About Drinking Alcohol You Should Stop Repeating

Coffee won’t cure a hangover and you definitely shouldn’t mix your cocktail with an energy drink

Person applies moisturizer as part of their skin care routine after a shower.
November 10, 2023
Korean Skin Care Routines: What You Need To Know

Focus on the philosophy — replenishing and respecting your skin — not necessarily the steps

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
November 8, 2023
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try