Allergies suck. Sneezing, wheezing breaking out in a rash, itchy eyes, and irritable bowels are no fun. Are these allergies symptoms signs of a weak immune system? Not only that, but allergy symptoms can seriously affect your daily life. Allergies can limit your participation in outdoor activities if you’re allergic to stuff outside, or what you eat if you have food allergies. And you’ve probably been told that if you have persistent allergies, you’ve got a weak immune system, and you need to be really careful. Today we’re going to turn that theory on its head. What if allergies=weak immune system is actually a myth? What if having allergies means that you’ve got a rockin’ awesome immune system that’s protecting you from worse shit than allergens?
Researchers have recently started looking into the idea that allergies offer health benefits and that things like hay fever may not be a sign of a weak immune system rather than a sick one. Before we get into the data, let’s stop and get to know our immune system.
The Great Protector: Your Immune System
The immune system is a team of organs, cells, and proteins that work together to protect your body from outside invaders like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and toxins. There are two parts to the team the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. You are born with your innate immune system already intact. Throughout your lifetime, when your body is exposed to microbes or toxins, your adaptive immune system adapts to kick their ass.
Think of the innate system as a team of first responders that are constantly on patrol and are first to respond to invaders. When the innate system recognizes an invader, it immediately goes into action by surrounding and engulfing the invader with phagocytes. These immune system cells kill the invaders. Pretty cool, right?
Then there’s the acquired immune system. It works with the innate system by producing cells (aka antibodies) that protect your body from a specific invader. Once your body has been exposed to an invader, B lymphocytes make antibodies that target that particular invader. Kind of like a heat-seeking missile locked onto a target. It may take several days for your system to develop antibodies after the first exposure, but after that, the immune system recognizes that invader and defends against it.
Allergies a Sign of Weak Immune System?
When your immune system reacts to a foreign substance like pollen, bee venom, certain foods, or pet dander, your immune system produces substances known as antibodies. The antibodies can cause inflammation to your sinuses, skin, airways, or digestive system. The inflammation can range from a minor reaction to a potentially life-threatening emergency. It’s easy to think of this negatively, but turn it upside down, and you’ll see that allegories can be a positive response to toxins. Allergic symptoms like coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and diarrhea are the body’s way of getting rid of harmful invaders.
Symptoms can also be “alarm bells” telling you that antibodies are attacking your body and your body is fighting these invaders or requiring more help in building up the immunity wall. Thus, there’s also the possibility that allergic response may also be preventing the onset of diseases.
So…are allergies a sign of a weak or strong immune system?
Allergy and Cancer
What? Can’t respiratory allergies lead to infections and pneumonia? Yes, but there is growing evidence that people who have allergies have a stronger defense against cancer. Why? Their immune systems may be better at recognizing, suppressing, and kicking out cancer-causing substances and toxins before they can take hold.
Now we’ll check the data.
According to research from Ohio State University, men and women whose blood tests confirmed them to have an allergy were almost 50% less likely to develop gliomas (a type of brain tumor) than men and women without allergies.
The journal Cancer Cell published a study that found that thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), which is prevalent in people with asthma and allergies, decreases the risk of skin cancer in mice.
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, people with both hay fever and asthma are 17% likely to die from colorectal cancer than people who have neither or only one of the conditions.
Other Nemesis to Immune System
The above findings are compelling, huh? Now we’ll move on to the other elephant in the room that is wearing our immunity system out.
Our immunity can also be weakened by poor nutrition, smoking, and or alcohol consumption. A weakened immunity indicates a weakened wall that enables antibodies, e.g. viruses and bacteria, to infect the body. And allergy is not the only effect of an impaired immunity wall. Besides allergy, the following could develop:
Contagious respiratory diseases
Respiratory diseases are viral infections to the respiratory system. Viruses are usually transmitted by contact, droplets, and fomites. The respiratory infection could affect one or more parts of this system, which includes:
- Throat (pharynx)
- Voicebox (larynx)
- Windpipe (trachea)
- Large airways (bronchi)
- Small airways (bronchioles)
This is seasonal influenza (commonly known as flu) is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. There are 4 types of influenza viruses that taunt people and animals differently. Influenza A and B viruses are the 2 that have caused the seasonal epidemic.
People who have flu often feel few or all of these symptoms:
- fever or feeling feverish/chills
- sore throat
- runny/stuffy nose
- body aches
- vomiting and diarrhea.
COVID-19 has plagued the world over the last 2 years. This coronavirus has one up on the flu virus. It is also an infectious virus and has some similarities to the flu. Unfortunately, its infection spread and potency is much higher than the flu virus. And, many deaths around the world. Symptoms from this infection are similar to flu, but some patients were found to be asymptomatic. In a short span of time, different variants have mutated from the original strains leaving regulators and government bodies scrambling to find answers and resolutions.
Sometimes, healthy cells and tissues are too caught up in their response to invaders to tell the difference between their own cells and foreign cells. This causes them to attack normal cells, resulting in autoimmune disease. Some of the common autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, and thyroid. Some of these autoimmune diseases could impair our mobility, especially one that attacks our joints.
Treatments are available for various forms of allergies and autoimmune diseases. Also, vaccines are available to manage infection from influenza or COVID-19 viruses. There are some concerns on the coronavirus vaccine and some people has reported adverse effects such as allergy reaction. We shall leave that decision of “to vax or not to vax” to you and your health advisor.
However, having a strong immunity system is of imperative importance. It enables the body to not only be on the pulse to the first signal of infection but be able to guard and fight against these invaders. As Elite Warriors, we know that our bodies know what they need. We also know what we can do to support them in being strong and working at their optimal. Contact us to learn more!