What’s worse than atopy or asthma? Atopic Asthma

What’s worse than atopy or asthma? Atopic Asthma

Posted on August 15, 2012 by Barbara Cybart in Introductory Topics

Atopic asthma is a combination of two conditions: asthma[1] and atopy[2]. Essentially, atopic asthma is a genetic disposition to exhibit asthma symptoms and produce elevated levels of IgE when exposed to an allergen[3]. As with other forms of asthma, symptoms range from mild to severe. Atopic asthma is more prevalent in children than adults.

There is no cure for atopic asthma; however limiting exposure to the allergen will prevent symptoms from occurring. Common atopic asthma allergens are: dust mite, pollen, mould, animal dander and common allergy causing foods such as peanuts.  Exposure to these allergens will trigger the contraction of muscles around airways (bronchospasms), the inflammation of airway linings and the production of large quantities of thick mucus. This is responsible for the obstruction of airways causing the identifiable atopic asthma symptoms such as: coughing, wheezing, tightness, pressure or pain the chest, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

Depending on what specific allergen triggers your asthma reaction, differed measures can be implemented.  For example with a ragweed (genus Ambrosia) pollen allergy, it is important to be aware that the pollinating season begins in August and ends mid-October, and to limit outdoor activities during that time. However, if it is necessary to spend time out of doors there are several symptom management options for atopic asthma available to you. Atopic asthma can be managed by bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory medication and asthma inhalers. Asthma medication is generally divided into long-term controller medication (e.g. corticosteroids, long-acting beta-2 agonists, leukotriene modifiers) and short-term reliever medication (e.g. oral or intravenous[4] corticosteroids, short-acting beta-2 agonists, Ipratropium).   Treatments used only in severe cases to desensitize patients and reduce their allergic response are immunotherapy and anti-IgE monoclonal antibody administration.  When asthmatics are hospitalized with severe atopic asthma symptoms, the treatment may include: continuous high flow oxygen, continuous or frequent nebulised beta agonists, intravenous or oral steroids, intravenous adrenaline, and as a last resort intubation and ventilation. Before undertaking new treatment or making alterations to any pre-existing treatment always consult a doctor.

Atopic asthma is caused by a combination of a genetic predisposition to the disease and sensitization to the environmental allergen, which can occur as early as in a developing fetus. This chronic, incurable disease can begin to affect you from birth, but it is not necessary to let it control your whole life. Through the right treatment and cooperation with doctors, it will be you in control of atopic


[1] Asthma: a chronic lung disorder that is marked by recurring episodes of airway obstruction (as from bronchospasm) manifested by labored breathing accompanied especially by wheezing and coughing and by a sense of constriction in the chest, and that is triggered by hyperreactivity to various stimuli (as allergens or rapid change in air temperature).

[2] Atopy : a genetic disposition to develop an allergic reaction (as allergic rhinitis, asthma, or atopic dermatitis) and produce elevated levels of IgE upon exposure to an environmental antigen and especially one inhaled or ingested http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/atopy

[3] Allergen: a substance that induces allergy http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/allergen

[4] Intravenous: situated within, performed within, occurring within, or administered by entering a vein http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/intravenous