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As the seasons change, new allergens bloom all around you, pestering your sinuses and breathing. Allergies tend to spell trouble for just about anyone, but they pose specific threats for people who require oxygen therapy to breathe comfortably. Have you ever wondered, “Can allergies make it hard to breathe?” The answer is yes, which is particularly troublesome for anyone already living with breathing difficulties.
The first step to understanding your allergies is learning what is in season in any given month where you live. Each season provides a different source of allergens, which is why some people may struggle with allergies in the fall, but have fewer allergies in the summer.
Generally speaking, you can expect certain allergens to pop up seasonally and vary slightly depending on your location. During early autumn, weeds like ragweed will take over, followed by mold as the season gets wetter. Mold is typically the most imposing offender in the winter, until spring, which brings a burst of tree and grass pollen. Summer is dominated by weeds, and then by late summer ragweed kicks in again.
You can often get information about the pollen count in your area from your local weather station or newspaper, or you can try the Weather Channel Allergy section. This page gives you access to national pollen maps, pollen forecasts in real-time and a breathing index map so you can plan ahead.
Another tool for live pollen projections is the Zyrtec Allergy Forecast Tool, which can also be downloaded as an app for on-the-go allergy information. An allergist can tell you exactly what you are allergic to, but tools like this can tell you when and where to be on the lookout for your particular irritants. Enter your zip code and become better informed on the allergens in your environment.
If you have found yourself wondering, “Can seasonal allergies cause shortness of breath?” the answer is yes. In fact, allergies can cause both shortness of breath and wheezing. Because you breathe in the pollen, mold or other allergens, you’ll see the reaction in your nose, sinuses, throat, ears and lungs. You may even notice a reaction on your skin or in your stomach.
The impact on your breathing will be even more noticeable if you have a breathing condition like asthma or lung disease requiring oxygen therapy. Allergies can significantly impact your ability to breathe comfortably. This can mean that you require oxygen more frequently, or that your oxygen therapy proves less successful. Can allergies make it hard to breathe? Unfortunately, yes. If you are a supplemental oxygen user, it is absolutely critical to know your allergies and how to treat them.
When exposed to allergens, the nerves and glands in the upper and lower respiratory tracts are stimulated. Swelling occurs in these systems, obstructing breathing by hindering flow in airways. Allergens also ignite an increased production of mucus, which further complicates breathing.7 For someone who already struggles with breathing, this can make matters worse.
People with seasonal allergies and breathing conditions like asthma or lung diseases like COPD could find that it is a potentially dangerous combination. As such, it is essential to monitor your breathing as allergy season progresses. Someone suffering from just allergies might feel irritation in their respiratory system or feel uncomfortable. Someone with a breathing condition will feel their allergies’ effects more intensely, making breathing significantly more challenging.
Researchers at John Hopkins found a connection between “allergic phenotype” and COPD exacerbations. The study shows that COPD patients who also suffer from seasonal allergies have higher levels of symptoms and have a greater risk of flare-ups. Other researchers have noted that the data indicates that for a subset of COPD patients, allergy plays an important role in the development and progression of the disease.
Allergies can not only be problematic for people with breathing conditions, but they can also trigger intensified symptoms or worsened illness. The swelling in your nose and sinuses can even reduce the amount of oxygen you can take in through your nose, causing low oxygen levels. For patients who require oxygen therapy, this can be greatly dangerous to their health.
Can allergies make it hard to breathe? Yes. Can allergies cause shortness of breath, even if you use oxygen therapy? Yes. So then what can you do about it?
Thankfully, reducing your exposure to allergens, as well as treating your allergies, can make a big difference for you. There are several measures you can take to ensure that you can breathe as well as possible, even with allergies, so that you can get the most from your oxygen therapy.
Allergies are unpleasant for just about everyone who has them. However, they can be especially problematic when you are already dealing with breathing difficulties and require oxygen therapy. That is why it is important to treat your allergies effectively. With the right treatment and careful planning, you can reduce your exposure to allergies and ensure that you get effective treatments to minimize the impact allergies have on your oxygen therapy.
Can seasonal allergies cause shortness of breath and make it harder to breathe? Yes, but you do not have to fall victim to your allergies, and you don’t have to be stuck inside for the entirety of allergy season. Work with your doctors to find the right treatments so your allergies don’t get in the way of your oxygen treatments.
Neither oxygen therapy nor allergies should stand between you and an active, outdoor lifestyle. With the right oxygen delivery device, like an Inogen Portable Oxygen Concentrator, and a thorough understanding of the risks associated with your allergies, you can be smart about how you get outside and enjoy the outdoors. You can breathe easier with the right information and equipment.
There’s no longer a need to wonder, “Can allergies cause shortness of breath?” Learn how to address both your breathing struggles and your allergies by talking to your doctor and contacting Inogen to learn more about how our lightweight portable oxygen concentrators can make oxygen therapy easier for you. Oxygen therapy can help you breathe better, even if you have allergies. Give us a call at 855-MY-INOGEN today to find out more.
Oxygen. Anytime. Anywhere.
Photo Credit: Weather Channel Pollen Maps, Weather.com
Photo Credit: Women with pinky-peach trees, @ms.akr, Flickr
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 Jamieson, Daniel B, et al. “Effects of Allergic Phenotype on Respiratory Symptoms and Exacerbations in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, American Thoracic Society, 15 July 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3778754/.
 Jin, Jian-Min, and Yong-Chang Sun. “Allergy and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” Chinese Medical Journal, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 5 Sept. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5586167/.
 “4 Things You Should Know About Allergy-Related Fatigue.” Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Fort Worth, Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Fort Worth, 9 July 2020, www.allergyfortworth.com/4-things-you-should-know-about-allergy-related-fatigue.
 Sublett, James L. “HEPA Filters: Help or Hype?” Allergy & Asthma Network, Allergy & Asthma Network, 17 May 2021, allergyasthmanetwork.org/news/hepa-help-hype/.
 “Coughing, Sneezing, Wheezing? You May Have Allergic Asthma.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 24 Aug. 2020, health.clevelandclinic.org/sneezing-wheezing-short-of-breath-it-may-be-allergic-asthma/.