People who live with allergies may have come to expect problems with sneezing and sniffling. What they may not be prepared for, however, is the possibility that their allergies could result in pneumonia. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 50 million Americans experience some form of an allergy each year, with allergies ranking as the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the country. While not all allergy sufferers will experience pneumonia linked to their allergies, leaving allergies untreated can increase their risk for the respiratory infection.
Untreated Allergies Lead to Problems
The problem lies with untreated allergies. When the coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and congested nose, head, and chest symptoms that come with seasonal allergies are left untreated, they can turn into bigger problems like pneumonia.
The inflammation and swelling that come from untreated allergies can increase your chances of acquiring pneumonia. Untreated congestion and sneezing can cause the sinuses to become inflamed. Inflamed sinuses do not drain fluid well, creating an ideal spot for bacteria to grow, which can lead to an infection. This bacterial growth can cause everything from ear infections to pneumonia as a result. For people with existing issues like asthma or skin disorders such as eczema, untreated allergies can even make those conditions worse.
Other Respiratory Issues
Allergy flares can also lead to bronchitis. There are two types of bronchitis: acute and allergic (also called chronic bronchitis). Allergic or chronic bronchitis may be caused by triggers such as tobacco smoke, pollution, or dust and is considered part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Not only does bronchitis cause swelling in the bronchial tubes, impacting the volume of air brought into the lungs, but it also causes the airways to produce an excess of mucus. Both lead to problems breathing and to frequent coughing.
Additionally, some people can experience an allergic reaction known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This condition causes inflammation in and around the air sacs of the lungs and the bronchioles, or the smallest airways in the lungs. This condition can also be the result of an allergic reaction to dust, tiny organisms, or chemicals, but only affects a small number of people who encounter these triggers.
Signs of Allergies
Most people know that watery or itchy eyes or excessive sneezing suggest an allergic response. But there are other symptoms that may be less common. These other signs of allergies include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Worsening of asthma
- Upper respiratory infection
- Sinus infection (sinusitis)
- Sleeping problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of exercise endurance
Not dealing with seasonal allergies can impact sleep, brain function, and mood. Managing seasonal allergies is possible by figuring out a medicine regimen to help with symptoms and by taking a few simple precautions around the house. These can include replacing furnace filters, staying indoors when pollen counts are highest, and showering and washing hair after spending time outside. If these methods do not work, you may consider seeing an allergist for testing and desensitization treatments.
At Columbia Allergy, we are experts in the treatment of asthma or allergies. Our providers are here to help with a patient-focused approach. Contact us at any of our convenient locations in California, Oregon, Idaho, or Washington to learn more about how we can help with your unique challenges and goals.
This is not medical advice. Make sure to consult a medical professional for a diagnosis.