There are two major ways allergies increase your chance of getting an infection. Similar to our skin, our mucosal membranes act as a barrier to infections. Mucous membranes can be found in our throat, our nostrils, our lungs, and in our GI tract. Our skin, if not broken or damaged, acts as a barrier against infectious organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Broken skin from a cut or a burn is more likely to become infected than normal or intact skin. Similarly, allergies can cause your mucosal membranes to become inflamed (red, irritated) and the inflammation is more likely to allow infectious organisms into your body and that invasion of these micro-organisms can cause an infection.
Allergies can also cause the membranes in your sinuses to swell setting up the second method for which allergies can increase the likelihood of an infection. As your sinuses swell, the openings (ostea) of the sinuses may narrow or even become blocked. When these openings are blocked and barometric pressure changes, the sinuses can become painful. The pain is caused because the air trapped in the sinus pushes or pulls on the pain sensitive structures within the sinus. If bacteria, viruses, or other micro-organisms become trapped inside, it is much easier for them to proliferate in that enclosed environment and lead to a sinus infection.
In summary, allergies may increase your chances of contracting an infection. This is the reason that when your allergies are most bothersome to you, you are more likely to get strep throat, bronchitis, or sinusitis. It is important to remember that infections are caused by infectious organisms, not allergies. It is also then important for you to maintain control of your allergies.
Call us at San Antonio Asthma and Allergy so that we can prescribe an allergy treatment for you.