Allergic asthma affected approximately 60% of asthma sufferers in the US.

*According to The National Institute of Health (NIH).

Condition content was medically reviewed by an AllerVie Health physician in April 2023.

Asthmatic woman using inhaler with spacer

What is allergic (extrinsic) asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the bronchial tubes in the lungs. As the bronchial tubes allow air to flow in and out of the lungs, asthma can make it difficult to breathe and cause additional symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing.

Allergic asthma, also called seasonal asthma, or extrinsic asthma, is virtually the same as chronic asthma, which all the names can be confusing, but simply, it is asthma that occurs only at certain times, or seasons, of the year.

Fortunately, since this type of asthma is seasonal, it is triggered only when the allergens are present, during a fixed time and the symptoms lessen or disappear after that time.

Allergic asthma symptoms

The symptoms of allergic asthma are the same as the classic symptoms of asthma:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing when you exhale
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Chest pain

Allergic asthma causes

Allergic asthma triggers are those that also trigger allergies. They include:


Pollen is one of the most common causes of seasonal allergies. It can also aggravate or trigger asthma. There are different types of pollen present at different times of the year. 

  • Spring – tree pollen
  • Summer – grass pollen
  • Late summer – ragweed pollen
  • Fall – ragweed pollen

Hot weather and humidity

When you have asthma, your lungs are particularly sensitive to temperature and humidity. Hot dry air can trigger asthma. Also, people with asthma find it more difficult to breathe when the humidity is high.

Monitoring and maintaining humidity, or the amount of water vapor in the air, helps prevent allergy and asthma symptoms. It is of course easier to control the humidity inside with a dehumidifier when it is too humid and a humidifier when the air is too dry. The ideal relative humidity is 35% to 50% for controlling dust mite and mold growth and preventing dry nasal passages.

Indoor allergens 

If you are inside, you will possibly be exposed to allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, mold or cockroaches. 

Cold weather 

Winter is problematic for people with allergic asthma. If you are outside playing, working or exercising, the cold dry air can trigger asthma. 


Thunderstorms and heavy rains can cause allergic asthma. The rain hits pollen and bursts it into tiny particles making it easier to inhale. 


Although molds can grow year-round, peak-season is late summer to early fall when temperatures are warmer and humidity levels are higher.

Woman experiencing an allergic asthma attack

What is an allergic asthma attack?

If you are experiencing symptoms of asthma, it is a good idea to consult with an asthma specialist, also known as an allergist/immunologist. 

Our asthma specialists have advanced training and expertise in diagnosing and treating asthma, and can provide a comprehensive evaluation, develop a personalized treatment plan, and monitor your progress over time. 

They can also help you better understand your condition and provide education and resources to help you manage your asthma effectively.

When to seek medical treatment for allergic asthma

If you are struggling to breathe, even after using an inhaler, or are experiencing shortness of breath even at rest, you should seek emergency care at an urgent care center or emergency room. If you have asthma, you should always be aware if any symptoms get worse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 4,000 adults living in the United States died from asthma in 2020.

Risk factors for allergic asthma

Your risk for seasonal or allergic asthma are similar to risks for asthma and allergies in general. If you have allergies they can trigger an asthma attack even if you normally do not have asthma. Other characteristics that put you at risk for allergic asthma include:


If you are overweight, you're at an increased risk for asthma and seasonal asthma.


If you smoke or are around people who smoke, you're at an increased risk for seasonal asthma.

How we diagnose allergic asthma

When you meet with one of our asthma specialists, they will ask about your symptoms, your medical history and your family members’ medical histories. They will also perform a physical exam, test your lung function, and may test for allergies.

Other tests that are sometimes helpful include chest-x-ray and bronchoprovocation testing, which is typically completed at a pulmonary function laboratory.

Allergic asthma treatment

If you have asthma, you and your provider have likely developed a personalized plan for managing your asthma. 

If asthma is not well controlled and you are not following a daily plan to treat the symptoms, but only use inhalers when you have an asthma attack, you can permanently damage your airways. 

You can end up with a condition called airway remodeling. Your lungs become scarred, asthma medicines do not work as well, and less air is able to move through your airways.

Following are treatments that are used for both asthma and seasonal or allergic asthma:


Inhaled corticosteroids

Inhaled corticosteroids are an effective long-term medication for the control and management of asthma.


Combination inhaler

A combination inhaler provides a combination of albuterol, and budesonide, a corticosteroid, indicated for the as-needed treatment or prevention of bronchoconstriction and to reduce the risk of exacerbations in patients with asthma 18 years of age and older.


Rescue inhaler

A rescue inhaler can be used during an asthma attack or prior to exercise or exposure to triggers, to prevent an attack. A rescue inhaler delivers a bronchodilator medication which expands the airways.


Leukotriene modifier

Leukotrienes are chemicals in your body that cause asthma symptoms; coughing excess mucus, muscle tightness and difficulty breathing. Leukotriene modifiers are medications that do just what the name implies, block the production or effect of leukotrienes.



Immunotherapy has been successfully used to suppress asthma symptoms. It is also used by AllerVie Health specialists to treat allergies.


Mast cell stabilizers

Mast cell stabilizers are over-the-counter medications used for treating allergies that affect the nose. Cromolyn sodium is the ingredient in many over-the-counter mast cell stabilizers. They come in a bottle with a nasal applicator.

Allergic asthma management & prevention

Managing seasonal asthma is very much the same as managing asthma in general. You need to be aware of what is triggering your asthma and be ready to share that with your doctor. Write down when you are experiencing asthma and allergy symptoms and note whether you are inside or outside, how dry or humid the air is and the time and date. 

You may also try these allergic asthma remedies:

  • Keep your home as free from allergens as possible by:
    • Using a humidifier or dehumidifier to keep the air at optimal humidity
    • Keep the window closed
    • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
  • Avoid things and places that trigger your asthma
  • Protect yourself outside with a scarf or mask
  • Work with your doctor to understand your allergies and allergic asthma and to develop an action plan

Allergic asthma outlook

For some people, allergic asthma may cause only minor disruptions to their daily activities, while for others, it may significantly impair their quality of life. In severe cases, allergic asthma can lead to frequent absences from work or school and limit physical activity. In these instances, individuals may need to take time off work, limit their exposure to allergens, and follow their asthma management plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is allergic asthma dangerous?

How long does allergic asthma last?

Can allergic asthma go away?