It’s very common for pollen to trigger allergic reactions and asthma episodes. It’s the asthma that can often be life-threatening, according to Kenneth Mendez, president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). About 10 people per day die from asthma in the United States, Mendez said. “If a person has allergic asthma, then an allergen such as pollen can trigger an asthma attack,” Mendez said.
Joe Dale, a 16-year-old boy, reportedly died from a severe allergic asthma attack in 2017 after visiting a park the day he collapsed. According to reports, he never regained consciousness and passed away a few days later. The teen started having symptoms of asthma at 5 years old, but only had one attack when he was 12. He took an inhaler each morning and evening, and kept an emergency inhaler on him. The day he collapsed, he used his inhaler. He later went into a coma. It’s unclear if Dale or his parents knew he had allergic asthma.
Allergic asthma is also known as extrinsic asthma. Symptoms can include: wheezing, coughing, chest tightening and fast breathing. About 80 per cent of children with asthma have allergic asthma, and about 60 per cent of adults have allergic asthma, Mendez said. A proper diagnosis is key to know if a person has asthma or allergic asthma. A doctor can perform a skin prick or blood tests to confirm allergens.
“It is critical to be properly diagnosed, undergo testing, avoid triggers, and follow your prescribed asthma management plan,” Mendez said. “An asthma action plan can also help guide you when to take your quick-relief medicines and when to seek emergency medical care. If you have a history of asthma, an allergist will often track your asthma symptoms and do objective testing such as pulmonary function tests in your peak seasons to see if management needs to be increased,” added Dr. Stacey Galowitz, an allergy specialist from New Jersey.