Exploring The Link Between Persistent Coughing & Allergic Reactions

Dealing with a persistent cough can be not just frustrating, but also deeply concerning. It’s a common symptom that many of us might brush off at first, attributing it to a change in the weather, a minor cold, or even just the air quality in our homes. However, when a cough lingers, it’s natural to start wondering if there’s something more at play. 

Could it be a sign of a respiratory allergy? This question can lead you down a rabbit hole of health-related anxiety, research, and speculation. In moments like these, consulting allergy doctors becomes crucial in understanding and addressing your symptoms properly.

To help you out, we’ve created this easy guide to navigate the complex world of respiratory allergies and persistent coughs. 

Let’s explore this information together to see what your symptoms might indicate and how allergy doctors can offer the best solutions.

A woman appears to be coughing or experiencing discomfort, holding her neck, possibly displaying symptoms of a respiratory allergy.

What Are Respiratory Allergies? Symptoms & Causes

Respiratory allergies occur when the immune system reacts to harmless substances in the air, treating them as threats and causing an allergic response. 

This reaction can affect the lungs, nose, and throat, leading to symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. The response is typically immediate or happens shortly after exposure to the allergen.

Common Triggers Of Respiratory Allergies

  • Pollen: Comes from trees, grasses, and weeds. Seasonal variations often determine the presence and levels of pollen in the air, leading to seasonal allergies or hay fever.
  • Dust Mites: Microscopic organisms that thrive in household dust. They are a year-round allergen often found in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets.
  • Mold Spores: It’s a fungus that can grow on damp surfaces, both indoors and outdoors. They release spores into the air, which can trigger allergic reactions.
  • Pet Dander: Tiny, even microscopic, flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds, and other animals with fur or feathers. Pet saliva and urine can also be triggers when they dry and become airborne.
  • Cockroach Droppings: Allergens can also come from cockroaches and are a common trigger, especially in urban areas.

It’s highly recommended to contact allergy doctors if you suspect you’re having allergies, especially if they’re affecting your quality of life. 

Respiratory Allergies vs. Other Cough Causes: Key Differences

It’s not so easy to differentiate allergies from common coughs or the flu, but here’s a list of some factors to keep in mind before jumping to conclusions:

  • Allergic Reactions vs. Infections: Respiratory allergies are immune system reactions to allergens, not caused by viruses or bacteria, which are the culprits behind colds and the flu. While allergies can occur seasonally or year-round whenever exposed to triggers, colds, and flu tend to be more seasonal, with flu peaking in the winter.
  • Symptoms Duration: Allergy symptoms, including cough, can persist as long as the person is exposed to the allergen. In contrast, colds and flu have a more defined course, usually resolving within a week or two.
  • Nature Of Symptoms: Allergic coughs are often accompanied by other hallmark symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny or stuffy nose without the fever that can accompany the flu and sometimes a cold. Coughs from colds and flu might also be accompanied by a sore throat, body aches, and overall fatigue, which are less common with allergies. Keep in mind allergy doctors are usually the best option to know if you’re having a cough due to an allergy response and not another illness like the cold or the flu. 
  • Response To Treatment: Allergy symptoms typically respond well to antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, or other allergy-specific treatments, whereas colds and flu might require antiviral medications (for the flu) or simply supportive care, like rest and fluids.

Identifying Symptoms Of Respiratory Allergies

Respiratory allergies can manifest a range of symptoms that affect the nose, throat, eyes, and lungs. These symptoms can vary in severity from mild irritation to significant discomfort, affecting daily activities and overall quality of life.

Here’s a list of the most common signs:

  • Persistent Cough: Often dry and triggered by exposure to allergens, this cough is a reflex action to clear the airways of mucus or irritants. It can be particularly bothersome at night or early in the morning, affecting sleep quality.
  • Runny Or Stuffy Nose (Allergic Rhinitis): Exposure to allergens can cause the lining of the nose to become inflamed, leading to a runny or blocked nose. This condition is often called “hay fever” when seasonal pollen is the trigger. 
  • Sneezing: Frequent, uncontrollable sneezing is a common response to the irritation of the nasal passages caused by allergens. That’s why allergy doctors advise patients to be aware of their sneezes and coughs, as they’re not always caused by influenza or something similar. If they’re too frequent, they might indicate an allergy problem. 
  • Itchy, Watery Eyes (Allergic Conjunctivitis): Allergens can cause inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane covering the white part of the eyeball and the inner eyelids, resulting in itching, redness, and watering.
  • Wheezing & Shortness of Breath: Allergens can trigger asthma symptoms or exacerbate existing asthma in some people, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.
  • Postnasal Drip: This occurs when excess mucus from the nose or sinuses drips down the back of the throat, leading to throat clearing, coughing, and potentially sore throat.
  • Itchy Nose, Throat, Or Ears: Allergens can cause a tickling or itching sensation in the nose, throat, or even the ears, leading to discomfort and the urge to scratch or clear the throat.
  • Fatigue: Chronic allergy symptoms can lead to daytime fatigue and decreased concentration.

How Are Respiratory Allergies Diagnosed?

Allergy doctors follow a systematic approach to diagnose respiratory allergies. This process starts by discussing the patient’s symptoms, their severity, timing, and any apparent triggers, alongside the family history of allergies. 

After that, allergists undergo a thorough examination, focusing on the nose, throat, eyes, and lungs to identify signs of allergic reactions.

Depending on the initial findings, they may conduct skin prick tests to expose the skin to potential allergens and observe reactions, or blood tests to measure the immune system’s response to specific allergens (IgE antibodies).

This comprehensive evaluation helps pinpoint the exact cause of allergic symptoms to create the best treatment plan for the patient.  

Effective Treatment Options For Respiratory Allergies

Treatment for respiratory allergies focuses on relieving symptoms and, if possible, minimizing exposure to allergens. Here are the primary strategies used:

  • Avoidance Of Allergens: The first and most effective treatment step involves identifying and avoiding known allergens. This can mean making changes at home, work, or school environments to reduce exposure to triggers.
  • Medications: Your allergy doctor might indicate antihistamines to help relieve sneezing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes. Decongestants and nasal corticoids are also recommended to reduce inflammation. 
  • Allergy Shots (Subcutaneous Immunotherapy): This process involves regular injections of small amounts of allergens to build tolerance over time.
  • Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT): Your doctor might recommend under-the-tongue tablets or drops to expose the immune system to allergens, increasing tolerance.
  • Nasal Irrigation: Allergy doctors also consider this a great option to relieve nasal symptoms. It’s based on a saline solution to rinse nasal passages.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Adjusting activities and environments can reduce allergen exposure, such as using air purifiers, maintaining optimal humidity, and regular cleaning to reduce dust and pet dander.

How Allergy Doctors Can Help Manage Your Respiratory Allergies

While the journey might seem daunting, with persistent coughs and sneezes marking your days and nights, there’s a beacon of hope and relief in the form of expert care and tailored treatments.

At San Tan Allergy & Asthma, our dedicated team of allergy doctors is committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to individuals suffering from respiratory allergies. Contact us now so we can start the best plan to improve your quality of life and give you peace of mind.

San Tan Allergy & Asthma
4915 E Baseline Rd #112
Gilbert, AZ 85234

Phone: 480-626-6600
Email: officemanager@santanallergy.com
Website: https://santanallergy.com/