December 16, 2019

Why You Need to Stop Ignoring Your Allergy Symptoms

Allergies are a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe and can have a significant impact on your daily life. If left untreated, allergies can cause long-term damage to your health. 

In this blog, we will discuss what happens when allergies go untreated, if allergies can make you sick, and long-term treatments for allergies. 

Common allergy symptoms

Allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

A lot of these symptoms go hand-in-hand with having a common cold. It can sometimes be tricky to tell the difference between having a cold and having untreated allergies, but the easiest way to tell them apart is time. If you notice your symptoms lasting over 10 days or coming up during the same time of year each year, you’re likely suffering from allergies. For a more in-depth guide on how to tell if you have a cold or allergies, check out our quiz.

What happens when allergy symptoms go untreated? Can allergies make you sick? 

Untreated allergies can indeed make you sick, especially if you are experiencing them for a long period of time. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system overreacts to a substance that it perceives as harmful, such as pollen, dust, or certain foods. While mild allergic reactions may only cause symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, or itchy eyes, prolonged exposure to allergens can lead to more severe symptoms and complications. 

Here are just some of the ways that allergies can make you sick:

Inflammation and infection 

One of the main problems with untreated allergies is the mucus and other gunk in our sinuses. Our sinuses are simply pipes, and like other pipes, they get clogged if not cleaned and cleared out properly. 

Unchecked allergies can eventually lead to inflammation and infection. Things like ear infections and sinus infections can start to occur more frequently, which can then lead to even more serious problems like asthma or structural sinus issues that will require surgical intervention.

Lack of sleep & fatigue

Persistent allergy symptoms can cause serious effects on the quantity and quality of your sleep. There are the obvious issues where it is hard to fall asleep when your nostrils are burning, you can’t breathe, or you have a terrible headache. Having persistent sleep troubles can create sleep disorders like insomnia that your body “learns” over time and can be difficult to treat.

The other part is the quality of your sleep can also be affected. Constant nasal twitching, waking up intermittently throughout the night, and poor breathing are all things that can be caused by untreated allergies. As your body accumulates multiple nights of poor sleep and no proper rest, you can become slower and less focused in your day-to-day activities. We all need proper sleep and no amount of coffee or energy drinks are going to be able to get you back to feeling refreshed. Work, school, and life can be hard enough as it is sometimes, so this fatigue can have a serious effect on your mental well-being and job performance.

Developed mood disorders

Things like chronic fatigue, poor sleep quality, and lack of focus are much like allergies in that when untreated, worse conditions can follow. The stress and anxiety resulting from the memory problems and lack of productivity caused by these symptoms can put you in a bad spot. 

This is why we think of treating allergies as one of the most positive ways to change your life. These are all conditions that are caused simply by not addressing the root of your allergies and letting them fester into something ugly and life-impacting. 

Do allergies get worse over time?

Untreated allergies can indeed get worse over time, and this can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. Environmental changes, exposure to new allergens, and changes in immune system function can all contribute to the worsening of allergies. For example, studies have shown that exposure to air pollution can exacerbate allergies and increase the risk of developing asthma. Additionally, as a person ages, their immune system may become less effective at fighting off allergies, making them more susceptible to allergic reactions. 

Can untreated allergies cause sinus infections and permanent damage?

Yes, untreated allergies can lead to sinus infections and permanent damage to the body, making it essential to seek medical attention if you suspect that you have allergies. Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a substance that it perceives as harmful, such as pollen, dust, or certain foods. This overreaction can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. However, if left untreated, allergies can lead to chronic inflammation and damage to the body's tissues and organs.

Long-term effects of seasonal allergies

Some of the most common conditions that can develop as a result of untreated seasonal allergies include:

  • Chronic sinusitis: Prolonged exposure to allergens can cause chronic inflammation of the sinuses, leading to symptoms such as facial pain, congestion, and difficulty breathing.

  • Asthma: Allergies can trigger asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Over time, untreated asthma can lead to irreversible lung damage.
  • Eczema: Allergies can cause or worsen eczema, a skin condition that causes red, itchy, and inflamed skin. Over time, untreated eczema can lead to scarring and thickening of the skin.

Long-term effects of untreated food allergies

Untreated food allergies can lead to a range of medical conditions that can cause long-term damage to the body. Some of the most common conditions that can develop as a result of untreated food allergies include:

  • Anaphylaxis: In severe cases, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, a rapid pulse, and a drop in blood pressure.

  • Eczema: Similar to seasonal allergy symptoms, food allergies can also cause skin rashes or worsen eczema.

  • Gastrointestinal problems: Untreated food allergies can cause a range of gastrointestinal problems, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting. These symptoms can lead to malnutrition and dehydration over time.

Will allergies go away without treatment?

In some cases, allergies can go away without treatment, but this is not always the case. Some allergies may spontaneously remit, especially in children, but others may persist throughout a person's life. There are many factors that go into whether or not someone will outgrow their allergies including, type of allergy and severity of the allergy. According to the Mayo Clinic, between 60 and 80% of children may outgrow their milk or egg allergies, but adults are less likely to experience spontaneous remission. However, with proper diagnosis and management, allergies can be controlled, and symptoms can be minimized. There's no reason to leave your allergies untreated.

How to get long-term relief from your allergy symptoms?

Proper allergy treatment is tailored for each person’s allergies and their lifestyles to treat allergies long term. Here are three long-term allergy treatments that can help you stop ignoring your allergy symptoms and start treating the root causes. One is sure to be the right solution for your untreated allergies.

ExACT Immmunoplasty

This is the newest form of treatment and, by far, the fastest. ExACT Immunoplasty involves getting three injections in a clinic over an eight-week period, which studies have shown gives you the equivalent of 3-5 years of being on other forms of allergy immunotherapy like allergy drops or shots. 

Allergy Drops

If a procedure like ExACT Immunoplasty doesn’t seem right for you, allergy drops are a wonderful option. Allergy drops have been used for decades and are by far the most convenient option for patients, as they are taken at home and require only once-a-year trips to an allergist’s clinic after the initial testing is done and the drops are received. 

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots  are an affordable option for many patients, as they are typically covered by several insurance companies. Shots require regular trips to the clinic but give patients a very streamlined and easy-to-follow routine.

Tips to help relieve your allergy symptoms

These are things you can do right now to get some temporary relief from your allergy symptoms. 

Do nasal rinses

One thing we recommend to almost all of our patients is to do regular nasal saline rinses with a Neti Pot, NeilMed, or similar alternative. This is the best at-home way to not only clear your nasal passages but also immediately start feeling relief. They’re completely safe to do, we just recommend using distilled water.

Allergy-proof your home

A lot of us are unnecessarily exposed to allergens because we don’t take the right precautions. Here are the top things you should be doing to make sure untreated allergies aren’t overtaking the inside of your home.

Change air filters regularly

 If you have pets or live in a climate where A/C is used a lot, you’re most likely not changing your air filters enough. Try to aim for once a month if one of these situations describes you.

Wash off and change clothes when coming home

Pollen is often microscopic, so it’s hard for us to tell how much we’re bringing into our home. When you come home after being outside, your clothes should be immediately put in your hamper, and you should at least wash off your hands and face. 

Create a weekly cleaning routine

Dust mites and mold are the “big bads'' of indoor allergens, and they are most easily squashed by a regular cleaning routine. Dust loves to collect when we’re not paying attention, and letting dust stack up on blinds and ceiling fans is not helping your allergies. We all know mold loves damp conditions, so regular cleaning, inspection, and dusting can alert you to any leaky faucets or standing water in the nooks and crannies of your home.

Get a HEPA air purifier

Probably THE most effective way to eliminate allergens from your home is with an air purifier. We spend 90% of our time indoors, so it’s important to make sure that the air we’re breathing isn’t hurting us. Air purifiers are also very flexible for different budgets. You don’t need to get a $500 one that purifies your entire home when you could get two $25-50 ones that just cover your living room and sleeping space. 

Purchase a dust mite allergen cover for mattresses & pillows

Getting an impermeable zippered dust mite allergen mattress cover (along with regular washing of bedding in hot water/hot dryer) is one of the best ways to help remove dust mite exposure. These can be purchased online (Amazon) and in stores (Target, Walmart) and are typically inexpensive.

Take allergy medication effectively

It can be daunting with the number of different allergy medications available, but it’s important to choose the right one and make sure you’re taking it to its full effectiveness. 

Read the directions carefully before using them. If a medication doesn't work like it’s supposed to or is giving you side effects, you should speak with your doctor.

How Aspire Allergy & Sinus can help

If you’re looking to get long-term relief from your allergies, our allergy specialists at Aspire Allergy & Sinus can help you achieve that. Aspire Allergy & Sinus is a specialized clinic that can help allergy sufferers treat their allergy symptoms with long-term allergy treatments. With the use of advanced diagnostic testing and personalized treatment plans, we can help patients identify the specific allergens that trigger their symptoms and develop a comprehensive treatment plan to manage their allergies effectively. This can include a range of treatments, such as immunotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, that can help patients control their allergies and prevent long-term damage to their health. Book an appointment today so you can enjoy a better quality of life and reduce the risk of developing serious medical conditions associated with untreated allergies.

About The Author:

Haley Overstreet, MD