The spring season can be a tough time because it is the overlap between the end of cold and flu season and the beginning of allergy season. As a result, many patients who aren’t feeling well can have trouble telling whether they are sick or their symptoms are merely the result of common seasonal allergies. Still, there are some tried-and-tested ways to determine whether what one is experiencing is allergies or a more acute illness.
Determining whether it is a respiratory illness or allergies
There are several symptoms common to both allergies and upper respiratory infections, including itchy, watery, and red eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose and sinus pressure, sneezing, sore throat, and fatigue. “For those with severe seasonal allergies, symptoms can become so persistent that it begins to feel like getting sick as opposed to just common allergies,” explains Dr. Cliff Han, CEO and Founder of AllerPops.
The main way to distinguish between allergies and a cold is by looking for symptoms that only occur with infections, such as fever and muscle aches. These symptoms indicate that the body is fighting a more severe illness — such as a virus that would cause a common cold — rather than rejecting a foreign substance as an allergen.
However, if patients are not experiencing the symptoms associated exclusively with infection, there is a simple test that can help determine whether they are experiencing a cold or allergies. “After brushing and flossing their teeth and cleaning their tongue, patients should drink some hot ginger soup,” Dr. Han suggests. “If the symptoms improve, they are likely suffering from a cold. If symptoms worsen, it is more likely that they are the result of allergies.”
How allergies and oral health go hand-in-hand
This allergy test is rooted in the science behind the cause of allergies. Some have theorized that, as there are good bacteria — known as probiotics — in the gut to help aid in digestion, probiotics in the mouth are essential in aiding the body’s immune response. “These bacteria calm the immune system when we are healthy, and go away during illness to allow the body to fight the infection,” Dr. Han explains.
The processes of oral hygiene and drinking hot ginger soup remove the oral probiotics and help to boost the immune system’s power to fight the viruses that cause a common cold. If these bacteria are removed when no infection is present, allergy symptoms will become worse. This is because the oral probiotics are not there to regulate the immune system’s over-response to allergens being recognized by the body as harmful substances when, in actuality, they cause the body no harm.
Many who suffer from frequent allergies may have a condition known as oral probiotic deficiency (OPD). Those with OPD do not have the proper levels of oral probiotics to regulate their immune system’s response to common allergens. Oral probiotics — including Streptococcus and Veillonella — produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that reduce inflammation throughout the airway and alleviate the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
It stands to reason that these symptoms can be reduced — if not entirely eliminated — by restoring oral probiotics to healthy and normal levels. Thankfully, one can help promote the growth of these good bacteria in their mouth in several ways. For example, many would be served by reducing excessive oral hygiene habits. Patients should brush their teeth and clean their tongues for only the amount of time necessary to maintain dental health. Excessive hygiene can reduce the levels of oral probiotics substantially.
Additionally, patients suffering from frequent allergy symptoms may want to try a prebiotic mixture, such as AllerPops, that will foster the regrowth of these oral probiotics. These products offer a mixture of the compounds necessary for oral probiotics to grow and thrive and have shown the potential to restore a patient’s oral probiotic levels to normalcy with only a few treatments in a short time.
In the early days of the spring season, it can be difficult to tell whether one’s symptoms are due to allergies or a cold. With this simple test that can be done from one’s own home, patients can narrow down the cause of their symptoms and be on the way to treating them.
“Allergies are no longer something that one just has to live with,” Dr. Han adds. “Knowing that the root cause of most allergies is an oral probiotic deficiency, promoting healthy oral probiotic levels is a great way to live an allergy-free lifestyle.”