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Allergens are otherwise harmless substances that your immune system views as a “threat”. If you experience allergies then it’s a sign of two things: 1) Your immune system is actively working, and 2) Your immune system is misfiring (attacking the wrong substances).
If you’re reading this you’re probably wondering if allergies can weaken your immune system. The answer is yes, allergies can weaken your immune system! In the following sections I’ll talk about what happens when your immune system attacks allergens and how it can weaken your body.
As someone who had severe allergies I’ll share my experience battling allergies and share what they did to my body. My allergies affected me in ways I didn’t understand or realize until I got help (allergy treatment). The way I feel today is completely different than how I felt a few years ago.
Allergies Weakening My Immune System (My Experience)
Growing up I didn’t know I had allergies. My body was resilient so I persevered through my symptoms. In hindsight I had obvious signs of allergy. My symptoms were:
Chronic stuffy nose
Itchy eyes – seasonal
Extreme Fatigue (could hardly wake up in the morning)
Like any kid who was “thinking positive” I just assumed I was born that way and I’d be fine. When I hit my 20’s my symptoms began to take a turn for the worse.
I slept all the time. Although I attributed it to my active lifestyle I could sense something wasn’t right. Why weren’t other people as tired as I was?
Sadly, it wasn’t until 10 years later and a gradual decline in my health would I final visit an allergist to be tested.
Once I discovered what I was allergic to (almost everything especially dust mites and pollen) I realized why I was always exhausted. My immune system had been working overtime fighting substances that were always in the air.
My immune system was taxed. I knew it was still working, but it was starting to limp along because it couldn’t keep up with all the allergens in the air.
I still remember how I felt before I began treating my allergies with allergy shots. In order to get through a day I’d sleep 12 hours at night. During the workday I always came home for a short nap at lunch – I desperately needed the naps to make it through the afternoon.
I was sick more because I didn’t have energy and my blood pressure went up because I was stressed out due to fatigue (always feeling overwhelmed).
One thing I’ve learned: Your immune system will fight anytime of day whether you’re awake or asleep. If you have allergies your immune system will be working overtime. If you can get treatment for allergies, such as allergy shots, your immune system will thank you!
Be Aware Of Your Symptoms and Seasonality (Time of Year)
If you’re feeling run down, don’t count out allergies. Allergies can sap your energy, but if they tie up your immune system they can make you susceptible to colds and infections. When I was at my worst I was also getting sick a lot.
One tip I’d give is to consider the season.
Spring time is usually tree allergy season
Summer is usually grass allergy season
Late summer into fall is usually weed allergy season
These pollens will overlap with each other and can have a compounding effect on your allergies.
If you’re experiencing allergies in the winter, or year-round, dust mites might be the culprit. Because you can’t see dust mites you’ll never realize it but dust mites live in our homes, and in our beds.
My worst symptoms with dust mite allergy were in winter and summer because the HVAC system would blow them around the house. Because they’re invisible to the naked eye, dust mites can remain suspended in the air for hours. Once you inhale them the allergic symptoms begin!
Environmental allergies are also known as aeroallergens. These are substances in our environment that we come into contact with everyday.
No matter the season, a windy day is likely to blow around pollen, mold, and other substances that we inhale. Our body isn’t supposed to react to these things but sometimes it does and results in a stuffy nose, itchy eyes and skin, and general fatigue. Below are a list of common environmental allergens.
Pets and Animals
Allergy Antihistamines Helped My Weak Immune System By Reducing Reactions
When I first began treatment for my allergies I started off with an over the counter antihistamine. The antihistamine helps block the release of histamine into the body.
Since histamine is what causes our runny noses, rashes, and swollen eyes, it can be very helpful in reducing the immune system response.
In fact, the antihistamine gave my immune system relief as well by turning off the histamine aspect of immune response. This was my first step in strengthening my immune system.
Antihistamines, however useful, do not cure allergies. If you have chronic allergies like I had, you can expect to take antihistamines over and over to control your symptoms but it won’t help you reduce them permanently – that’s the main drawback of antihistamines for allergies.
They address the symptoms but not the underlying problem. Check out below for a real solution.
Related: Best OTC medicine for allergies
Allergy Shots Illuminated The Impact Of Allergies Weakening My Immune System
It wasn’t until I began allergy shots did I really understand how weak my immune system had become. If you’re unaware of allergy shots they are the only “cure” available for allergies.
They are a long-term process, time investment, and aren’t cheap (though insurance should cover most of the cost). Allergists give an allergy test, discover what you’re allergic to, and create a custom mix of the things you are allergic to and put them in your body (with an injection or drop).
With allergy shots, your body is constantly being exposed to the substances you’re allergic to. The process aims to retrain the immune system to recognize the allergens as harmless.
Most people are on allergy shots for multiple years and the improvement rate is around 70% (many people no longer need to take medicine after being on the shots).
Over the course of the 1st year on allergy shots, I gained a tremendous amount of energy. I began sleeping better and waking up with energy. My skin improved, eyes stopped itching, and my ears felt better too.
If you’re worn down from allergies and your immune system is having trouble overcoming allergies then I suggest looking into allergy shots. You can read my allergy shot review and learn more details about the process.
Tips For Indoor and Outdoor Allergies
For pollen allergies I suggest the following tips:
Avoid going outside on windy days
Exercise indoors, or outdoors during low pollen times (early morning)
Wear an allergy face mask
Choose to live by the coast where there are lower pollen counts
Utilize the HVAC in the summer with the best furnace filter available
Dust Mites and Pet Allergy
Dust mite are the most common indoor allergen and one that most people aren’t aware of. More people understand pet allergy because they can be seen and can cause immediate symptoms. Luckily the management of these allergens have many similarities.
Use the best mattress covers for allergies (will help with dust mites and pets)
Use the best furnace filter for allergies
Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner for allergies
Remove carpets if possible (less space for dust and dander on hard flooring)
Use a HEPA air purifier for allergies
Use a dehumidifier to reduce air moisture (dust mites like humidity)
In this article we answered if allergies can weaken your immune system. Allergies are actually a sign of a working immune system, however, it is “working” on the wrong things that aren’t really a threat. These allergens include dust mites, pollen, mold, pet dander, and yeasts and we encounter them on a daily basis.
I never knew I had allergies until I was an adult. I experienced eczema, itchy eyes, a congested nose, and worse of all fatigue. The fatigue became gradually worse so it was hard to understand.
When it was worse I started to become sick more often and require more rest. My immune system was exhausted.
It wasn’t until I was tested and treated for allergies did I learn how bad my immune system was affecting me. It was running at 100% for a long time, fighting things that were unnecessary.
With antihistamines, I turned off the inflammatory response of my symptoms. But to really improve I began getting allergy shots that helped retrain my immune system. Now I have very minor symptoms to the things I was allergic to and I have way more energy.
If you suspect you have allergies and your immune system is failing you I recommend getting improving your home environment with dust mite mattress covers, wearing a mask while exercising outside, and using HEPA air filters.