Spring is upon us – and with it, the usual threat of seasonal allergies.
But to make matters worse, we’re in the midst of one of the worst cold and flu seasons in recent years. Which raises an interesting question – do allergies weaken our immune system, and are those who suffer from allergies thus at greater risk of getting sick?
The short answer to that question is yes. While having allergies doesn’t cause you to come down with a cold or the flu, the treatment of your allergies is a factor in your vulnerability to other illnesses. Here’s why …
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between allergies and illness. For example, if you start sneezing, have a runny nose and a sore throat, you may mistake the symptoms of an allergy for a cold. It’s only when you start to have a fever or a headache and achiness that you realize it’s more than just an allergy. Plus, a cold may only linger for a week or so, while your allergies will be raging as long as you’re exposed to the allergen.
However, if you do have ongoing allergies and they aren’t treated effectively, it could weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to viruses and other germs. That, in turn, could enable your uncontrolled allergies to evolve into a sinus, ear, or upper respiratory infection.
If you are prone to allergic asthma, your sensitive air passages may be more reactive to viral and bacterial triggers. And when your allergy symptoms disturb your ability to get a good night’s sleep, that too affects your immune system and makes you more likely to succumb to infection. Should you get sick while suffering from allergic asthma, you could be at greater risk of experiencing complications from the illness.
How to Live with Allergies, Not Illness
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to strengthen your immune system and minimize your risk of getting sick despite your allergies. These include:
- Practicing good hygiene. Keep germs and viruses at bay by washing your hands often with hot water, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Making sure you eat a balanced diet. Foods known to fight against infection include berries, garlic, leafy greens, poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.), cauliflower, kale, raw honey, and yogurt with live and active cultures.
- Get plenty of rest. This should go without saying. A healthy night’s rest boosts the immune system, and keeps stress levels down.
- Avoiding contact with people who are sick and may be contagious. Keep your distance and do not touch objects they have used.
- Cleaning your household and workstation surroundings regularly. That includes counters and other surfaces that you touch often with your hands, as well as toilets and sinks. Use soap and water or domestic detergents to cleanse. This helps eliminate viruses that can survive on hard surfaces.
- Getting vaccinated. Ask your doctor what vaccines against infections or diseases are available and whether they are right for you.
- Control your allergies. Don’t allow them to go undiagnosed and untreated. Work with your doctor to find the right treatment to manage, if not eliminate, your condition and take medication as prescribed.
To learn more about effective treatments for allergies or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, please call Intercoastal Medical Group in Sarasota and Manatee County, Florida. You can also request an appointment online now.