World Allergy Awareness Week 2015 will run from April 13th to 19th. Presented by the World Allergy Organization (WAO), the annual event seeks to draw attention to different allergies and their related disorders in order to facilitate proper diagnosis, symptom management, and prevention awareness. Allergies and their associated complications are increasingly prevalent throughout the world. The initiative isn’t just about informing the general public; they also hope to unite doctors, educators, patient advocates, and policy makers in a collaborative effort to confront the problems facing patients suffering from allergic diseases and asthma.

Why is asthma included as part of World Allergy Awareness Week? While not all allergy sufferers have asthma, the two often occur in tandem in patients. The same things which can trigger allergy symptoms – such a pet dander and pollen – typically cause asthma attacks. Allergy-induced asthma, or allergic asthma, can also be caused by food or skin allergies.

This year’s World Allergy Awareness Week is spotlighting “Airway Allergies – The Human and Economic Burden.” Allergic rhinitis is inflammation of the nose which results in sneezing, itching, nasal drip, and congestion. It affects an estimated 400 million people and is caused by immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody present in all humans, which sometimes mistakes harmless substances like dust as a life threatening intruder – causing allergic reactions. Asthma, which affects 300 million people, can also be caused by IgE-related inflammation. An estimated 80% of asthmatic patients have allergic rhinitis and the number of suffers is projected to increase throughout the entire world. Conversely, 10-40% of people with allergic rhinitis have asthma.

Allergic rhinitis and asthma can negatively affect productivity at work and learning performance in school. They also result in missed work or school and unplanned visits to the doctor’s office or emergency room which can make it a serious financial concern. Hospitalization and greater prescription costs can also be a drain.

Proper diagnosis and management are the two keys to relief. Pay attention to your symptoms and record any changes in how you feel when exposed to potential allergens such as pollen and pet dander. Environmental control measures, like the avoidance of allergens, is an important non-medicinal way to relieve symptoms. The use of a medical-grade air purifier may be a helpful tool for relief of both allergy and asthma symptoms.

The World Allergy Organization encourages involvement in World Allergy Awareness Week in a variety of forms. They share stories, videos, audio content, photos and more from events held by participating organizations and individuals.

What about you? Do you have any experience with respiratory allergies? Is it paired with asthma? How do you manage it?