Can Allergies Compromise a Person’s Immune System?

Having been an allergy sufferer all my life, I can say with a degree of certainty that it can be hard to tell the difference between allergies and a cold. The main difference between the two of course, is that a cold is caused by a virus, while allergies are caused when the immune system floods the body with histamines to fight off a perceived threat.[1] A cold is typically pretty contagious and can be transmitted from person to person by sneezing, coughing, or even shaking hands, while allergies are merely an overreaction to an irritant such as dust or pollen.

That being said, that overreaction can make a person pretty miserable but can it ultimately make a person sick?

To answer this question, we need to take a quick look at the symptoms of a cold and symptoms of allergies. The symptoms of a cold often include a cough, aches, fatigue, sore throat, congestions and a runny nose. A cold can last a week or two at most, and tends to be pretty seasonal. Allergy symptoms include a cough, fatigue, itchy watery eyes, sore throat and a runny or stuffy nose and can occur all year round and last as long as the person is exposed to the irritant of allergen. [2] But can suffering from allergies increase a person’s susceptibility to illness?

Sadly, the answer is yes. A person who suffers from allergies will not become sick with a cold or even the flu because of allergies, however if those allergies are not properly controlled they can weaken the body’s defenses and make that person more susceptible to germs and viruses. [3] Let’s take a closer look- Allergies affect the body’s sinuses, ears, and upper respiratory system. When a person is suffering from allergies, air pathways can become inflamed and irritated. He or she has a runny nose, watery eyes as well as coughing and sneezing. While the body is taxing itself to respond to the allergen, it could allow viruses and bacteria to slip by because they are not the priority.

Fortunately there are small steps you can take to prevent illness, so allergies don’t progress into illness. First and foremost, work to get allergies under control. By reducing the body’s need to respond to allergens, more resources can be dedicated to fighting viruses and bacteria. Additionally, make a practice of regular hand washing with hot water and soap. Try and avoid touching your face, specifically your eyes, nose and mouth. Get a good night sleep of at least 7-8 hours. A good night’s rest is one of the best things a person can do to support the immune system and lower stress levels. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated so that the body can work properly and flush out toxins. Also, try and eat a clean balanced diet that includes leafy greens, brightly colored fruits and berries as well as lean proteins. Will any one of these prevent a person from catching a cold? Sadly no, however an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.




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