Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the lungs, leading to difficulty in breathing but depending on the symptoms, triggers and age group involved, asthma is categorised into different types. Broadly, asthma can be categorised as allergic and non-allergic where both the conditions have different characteristics like triggers, duration of asthma attack and severity. Let’s understand both the conditions in detail.

Allergic vs non-allergic asthma types: Comparing triggers and symptoms for better management (File Photo)

Allergic Asthma v/s Nonallergic asthma:

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Mahavir Modi, Consultant Pulmonolgist at Ruby Hall Clinic in Pune and Director at Modi Clinic in Pune, shared, “Allergic asthma is one of the most common asthma phenotypes. Symptoms of allergic asthma may be represented at any age but generally patients with allergic asthma are younger in age than patients with non-allergic asthma. Studies have shown that allergic asthma being more common in males, than females. Statistics show that there are significantly more women patients with nonallergic asthma as compared to allergic asthma. The sex ratio is 1.2 females against 0.8 males, as per literature.”

Trigger:

Dr Mahavir Modi explained, “Allergic asthma is sensitised by environmental allergens like dust mites, pollen, pet dander, mold etc. If an allergic person is exposed to these allergens, their immune system is activated due to the allergen triggers, leading to inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Moreover, exercise-induced broncho problems has been observed more among allergic asthma patients as compared to nonallergic asthma.”

He elaborated, “On the other hand, nonallergic asthma is triggered by several factors apart from allergens listed above. These may include viral infections, weather change, stress levels and even certain drugs and food items. Similarly, there are seasonal attacks viz specific months during which allergic and nonallergic asthma patients generally will witness exacerbation. For example, nonallergic asthma patients witness asthma exacerbations during winter season and less during summer season.”

Symptoms:

Talking about the signs, Dr Mahavir Modi said, “The symptoms for allergic asthma are similar to non-allergic asthma such as coughing, tightness in chest, wheezing, shortness of breath which can be exacerbated by physical activity or exposure to allergens.”

Age group:

According to Dr Mahavir Modi, the allergic asthma patients generally have encountered an asthma attack in their early/youthful phase of life. Also, studies report that family history of asthma is more common among allergic asthma vs. non-allergic asthma.

IgE levels:

Dr Mahavir Modi informed, “Immunoglobulin E (IgE) –an antibody produced by the body in response to any allergen triggers, is associated with severity of allergic disease. Patients with allergic asthma usually have their blood total IgE levels higher vs. patients with nonallergic asthma. However, specific blood test such as IgE levels, allergy panel tests will be recommended by the treating doctor, depending on symptoms and severity.”

He concluded, “Understanding the different types of asthma is crucial for effective management and treatment. In case anyone experiences symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, tightness in chest and breathlessness for prolonged time, it is advisable to consult a doctor, to ensure early detection and right treatment. By recognising the specific triggers and symptoms, individuals with allergic asthma can mutually coordinate with their healthcare providers to develop personalised treatment plans that help them manage their condition and improve their quality of life.”