Can Allergies Weaken Your Immune System?

Those who suffer from seasonal allergies often wonder whether their risk of getting sick is increased. And as if the discomfort of your allergy symptoms isn't enough, getting a cold or flu on top of them can make you truly miserable.

But you don't have to succumb to the influx of germs that exists at this time of year. If you keep your allergies well managed and take proper steps for germ control, you may be able to avoid catching other illnesses. Consider the following facts that can make a difference in your health.

Similar Symptoms

First, it's important to know that having allergies doesn't cause you to get a cold or flu, but it can cause symptoms that look very similar. In fact, sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between allergies and illness. In addition, there are some situations that can occur that do cause your allergies and related asthma symptoms to make you more susceptible to falling prey to viruses and other germs.

Is It Allergies or Are You Sick?

When you suddenly start to sneeze, you may wonder if your allergies are acting up—or if you're actually getting sick, as the difference is often hard to tell.  Allergies and illness both occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign invader. As a result, both conditions can have many of the same symptoms, but there are some telltale differences.

For instance, an allergy and a cold can cause a sore throat, sneezing, and runny nose. But a cold may also cause an elevated body temperature, a headache and achiness. In addition, a cold may last for a week or 10 days, while allergies exist for as long as you are exposed to the allergen. In many cases, this means that the allergy symptoms can linger for weeks on end.

What You Should Know About the Allergy and Illness Link

If you have allergies and you don't treat them effectively, you could be at higher risk of also getting sick. To better understand the connection, please review the following list:

  • Uncontrolled allergies can progress into a sinus, ear or upper respiratory infection. That's why it's important to treat your symptoms and head off these types of complications.
  • Ongoing allergies can also weaken your immune system and make it less effective in fighting off other germs. This can make you an easy prey for colds, flu, and virus germs that are circulating.
  • If you suffer from allergic asthma, your sensitive airways may be more reactive to virus and germ triggers.
  • When your allergy symptoms keep you from getting a good night's sleep, you may also be more likely to succumb to the various germs you meet.

Risk for Complications

If you have allergies and asthma, and you do get sick, you could also be more prone to experiencing complications from your illness.

To minimize your risk of getting sick, practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with hot water and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Make sure to eat a balanced diet and get plenty of sleep.




American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)