Girl having respiration problems touching chest sitting on a couch in the living room at home.

Understanding Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and Where to Find Support

Allergies and asthma are some of the most common chronic diseases affecting Americans today. If you don’t have allergies or asthma, you likely have friends or loved ones who do. Less common are immune deficiency disorders, often referred to as primary immune deficiency diseases (PIDDs). At Accessia Health, we’re committed to supporting individuals facing these conditions. By providing assistance we are able to help ease the financial burdens associated with their healthcare needs.

  • More than 100 million people in the U.S. experience some form of allergy, with seasonal allergies, eczema, and food allergies alone affecting nearly 1 in 3 adults and more than 1 in 4 children (CDC).
  • More than 27 million people in the U.S. have asthma, equalling about 1 in 12 people. 
  • More than 200 different forms of PIDDs affect 500,000 people in the U.S. 

While these conditions are managed by specialists known as allergists/immunologists, unfortunately, there is no cure for them. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at each diagnosis, exploring common symptoms and when it’s crucial to seek the expertise of a specialist.



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines allergies as occurring “when an individual’s immune system misclassifies typically harmless substances as harmful and has a specific and reproducible immune response.” Common allergens – the typically harmless substances – include:

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Food
  • Insect stings
  • Animal dander
  • Mold
  • Medications/Drugs
  • Latex

Allergic reactions vary from minor to life-threatening. Allergens that occur seasonally like pollen, dust, and dander can induce coughing, sneezing, hives, rashes, itchy eyes, a runny nose, and a scratchy throat. In severe cases, allergies to insect stings, food, and medication can cause life-threatening reactions like low blood pressure, breathing trouble, asthma attacks, and even death. Allergies may seem like a minor inconvenience for many people, but for some, they are much more serious.

When should you see an allergist?

If you or a loved one are suffering from allergy symptoms but are unable to identify what is causing them, an allergist can help by conducting different tests to narrow in on the causes of your symptoms. If you know what is causing your allergy symptoms (for example, you start sneezing every time you pet a cat), an allergist can prescribe treatments to help manage the symptoms.



Asthma is a chronic disease that impacts airways (called bronchial tubes) in the lungs. Asthma causes inflammation and swelling of the airways which then make it hard to breathe. Common symptoms are trouble breathing or shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or tightness or pain in the chest.

Symptoms can be induced by physical activity, inhaling harmful substances, or, most commonly, allergens. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) notes that “people with a family history of allergies or asthma are more prone to developing asthma. Many people with asthma also have allergies. This is called allergic asthma.”

When should you see an allergist?

The AAAAI recommends making an appointment with an allergist if the following symptoms are present:

  • Coughing that is constant or made worse by viral infections, or is triggered by exercise and cold air.
  • Wheezing or whistling sound when exhaling. 
  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing which may be associated with exercise.
  • Chest tightness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Problems feeding or grunting during feeding (infants).
  • Problems sleeping due to coughing or difficulty breathing.


Immune Deficiency Disorders

Immune deficiency disorders occur when part of a person’s immune system is absent or not functioning properly. When the cause of the deficiency is hereditary or genetic, it is called a primary immunodeficiency disease (PIDD). The deficiency in the immune system creates a pattern of repeated infections that can affect many different parts of the body:

  • Skin
  • Respiratory system
  • Ears
  • Brain or spinal cord
  • Urinary or gastrointestinal tracts
  • A combination of multiple organs, glands, cells, and tissues.

With more than 200 PIDDs identified, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) researches PIDDs as a whole and individual diseases. Advancements are being made across the board, improving treatment options and enhancing patients’ quality of life.

When should you see an allergist?

Anyone can be affected by PIDDs and immune deficiency disorders. The AAAAI notes that “serious PIDDs typically become apparent in infancy. … However, some antibody deficiencies may present in older children or adults. In milder forms, it often takes a pattern of recurrent infections before PIDD is suspected.” The organization notes important signs that may be attributed to PIDDs are:

  • Recurrent, unusual, or difficult-to-treat infections.
  • Poor growth or loss of weight.
  • Recurrent pneumonia, ear infections, or sinusitis.
  • Multiple courses of antibiotics or IV antibiotics necessary to clear infections.
  • Recurrent deep abscesses of the organs or skin.
  • A family history of PIDDs.
  • Swollen lymph glands or an enlarged spleen.
  • Autoimmune disease.

Allergists/immunologists have specialized training and expertise to diagnose and coordinate treatment plans for PIDDs. If the above symptoms are present and you are having difficulty being diagnosed, it may be time to visit an allergist/immunologist.


Disease Support

Allergies and asthma are extremely common, and there are a number of organizations set up to research them and help patients and physicians alike. One such organization that holds allergies, asthma, and immune deficiency diseases in equal regard is the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Formed in 1943, AAAAI is the leading membership organization of more than 7,000 allergists/immunologists around the globe and provides patients with trusted information regarding allergies, asthma, and immune deficiency disorders. 


Accessia Health Programs

Accessia Health is committed to supporting patients with chronic diseases, including allergies, asthma, and immune deficiency disorders. Our holistic, inclusive, outcomes-focused approach offers comprehensive support that includes case management, education, and financial support for health insurance premiums, medication copayments, travel, and other essential medical expenses.

We have dedicated programs for asthma and primary immune deficiency. ​Individuals can apply for assistance, or, if a program is full, a waitlist option is available.