Can my allergy or sinus issues increase my risk of developing viral infections?

We all have defenses against viral infections. These include systemic immunity and local immunity.

Systemic Immunity

Systemic immunity refers to our overall health and full-body immune system. This can be compromised by immune disorders that weaken the immune system as well as general illnesses, such as diabetes that also tend to make people more susceptible to infection. A weakened systemic immune system may allow the viral infection to replicate and grow at a faster rate and cause more widespread and severe illness.

Local Immunity

Local immunity refers to the local defense mechanisms in our respiratory tract that form a defense barrier to viral infection entering the body. The weaker these barriers are, the more likely the virus can enter the person’s body and initiate the infection.

Local immunity is weakened by many primary pulmonary (lung) issues such as smoking asthma, COPD, and cystic fibrosis.

Local immunity is also weakened in the nasal lining by many nasal and sinus disorders.

a healthy nasal and sinus Lining is a Force field

Poorly controlled nasal allergy, chronic sinus infections, and/or unaddressed structural issues, such as a deviated septum, create lining swelling and breakdown.  These issues may weaken the local defenses and increase a person’s risk of being infected by viral illnesses. Think of your healthy nasal and sinus lining as a force field. It contains a mucus barrier to trap viruses. Local immunoglobulin secretion in the mucus helps to kill the virus.  Tiny cilia in the lining sweep the virus away, to be swallowed and digested before it can reach the lining. Without these local mechanisms, a person is more vulnerable to contracting a virus.

Chronic nasal and sinus lining inflammation from allergies and sinus infections also irritates the throat and may create lung inflammation and bronchitis. This makes the throat and lungs also more vulnerable with weakened local immunity.

If you have chronic nasal and sinus issues, such as poorly controlled allergy and recurring sinusitis, these issues may increase your susceptibility to viral infections. Having these issues evaluated and corrected can help reduce your long term risk of viral infections.

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Posted in: Allergies, Sinus and Nasal

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