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Asthma & Allergies

Quick Facts

  • Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airway. It is a life-long condition that may change over time. Many people with food allergies also have asthma.
  • Be Allergy-Aware There are many ways to be allergy-aware — by reading labels, asking the right questions when you eat out, carrying your auto-injector, and knowing how to use it. See the links below for more information on staying safe and living confidently with food allergies.

  • If a person has been diagnosed with an allergy, it is not safe to “try a little bit” of the allergen, even in a baked item. Talk to your allergist if you have questions, and clarify with relatives of small children what is (or isn’t) safe for them to eat.

What is asthma?

Wheezing

Asthma is unpredictable. Sometimes an asthma attack can be mild; at other times it can be severe. People can go for years without an asthma attack, then have a severe attack, or a series of attacks. It is important to always be prepared with emergency medication, even if you haven’t had an asthma attack in a long time.

Tightness in the chest

Asthma triggers, degree, and severity are different for every individual. Some triggers include animals, dust mites, mould, pesticides, pollen, scented products, smoke, and viral infections – but there are many others.

Coughing

Managing asthma often involves using daily medications to maintain health and carrying emergency medications to control asthma. Many people with asthma wear medical identification jewelry that indicates their medical needs.

Shortness of breath

Asthma is a chronic (life-long) inflammatory disease of the airways that can cause: 1. Wheezing, 2. Tightness in the chest, 3. Coughing, 4. Shortness of breath Asthma triggers, degree, and severity are different for every individual. Some triggers include animals, dust mites, mould, pesticides, pollen, scented products, smoke, and viral infections – but there are many others.

Food Allergies

People with food allergies who have asthma are more likely to suffer from anaphylaxis when having a food allergy reaction. However, many people who do not have asthma can also suffer from anaphylactic food reactions. All individuals with food allergies need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector at all times. Likewise, all individuals with asthma need to be prepared with their emergency asthma medications.

If you have asthma, you must take preventative steps (such as avoiding triggers) and be prepared by carrying emergency medications. Daily life requires a high level of awareness, planning, and educating others about your health condition. Teachers, co-workers, neighbours, and family can all help you live safely with asthma.

with asthma wear medical identification jewelry that indicates their medical needs.

People can be allergic to any food, but some allergies are more common than others.

The following foods are listed as Priority Allergens by Health Canada, and have specific labelling requirements established by Health Canada.

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Mustard
  • Peanuts
  • Seafood
  • Sesame
  • Soy
  • Sulphites
  • Tree Nuts
  • Wheat

Dust, Pollens, Allergens etc.

People can be allergic to any food, but some allergies are more common than others. The following foods are listed as Priority Allergens by Health Canada, and have specific labelling requirements established by Health Canada.
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Mustard
  • Peanuts
  • Seafood
  • Sesame
  • Soy
  • Sulphites
  • Tree Nuts
  • Wheat

Non Food Allergens

Non-Food Causes of Anaphylaxis

In addition to food, anaphylaxis can be caused by medication, insect stings, latex, exercise, or unknown reasons ("idiopathic").

Medication

An allergy to medication happens when your immune system reacts to the drug. Any drug can cause a reaction.

Insect Stings

The most common sources of allergy from insect stings are honeybees, bumblebees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, or fire ants. Insect allergy can start at any age in life.

Latex

Some people are allergic to latex. For these people, allergic reactions can be caused by exposure to latex products or inhaling airborne latex particles.

Exercise

Exercise-induced anaphylaxis (EIA) is not common, but it happens. For some people, exercise alone can cause a reaction, usually within 45 minutes to an hour of starting to exercise.
Some exercise-induced anaphylaxis is caused by eating a certain food within a few hours before or after exercising. The food alone might not cause a reaction, but together with exercise it does. Your allergist will provide guidelines for you to follow when exercising and will prescribe an auto-injector which you should always carry with you.

Unknown (idiopathic)

Idiopathic anaphylaxis is a rare condition in which anaphylaxis occurs and there is no known trigger. It is difficult to diagnose and is done by eliminating all other possibilities.
Your allergist will take a thorough history, do a physical exam, and run other tests (such as allergy testing) to rule out common allergens and other diseases. Individual treatment for idiopathic anaphylaxis depends on the frequency and severity of the reactions.

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