When you think of allergies or chronic sinus issues, you likely think about that annoying period of sniffing at the start of every spring. You probably haven’t considered these issues in the context of aging and longevity, but an increasing body of research suggests you probably should. From shortening your life a little to making you look older, allergies and sinus issues are a problem worth addressing.
Why allergies are bad news for the body
Allergic reactions can develop into a wide range of substances, from common fruits and vegetables to dust mites. Often, we don’t think of sinus-irritating allergies in the same category as a peanut allergy, even though we use the same word for both. Those red, itchy eyes and running nose are symptoms of a mild allergy to pollen. While many people simply learn to live with irritation, especially in the spring, pollen allergies can be as deadly as any other allergy, and the degree of severity can vary. Dust mite allergies will also often lodge in the sinuses and make you sneeze as a primary symptom.
Sinus infections present the same as allergies. This includes a runny, irritated, and blocked nose. That said, they differ in a few ways, and there’s a wide range of other causes. This could be a bacterial infection of the delicate mucosal membranes of the nose, or it could be a comorbid symptom with other health issues. Both represent a malfunctioning immune pathway in the body. The rush of histamines to your nasal passages, the excess generation of mucous, the swelling of the mucosal linings, and other typical ‘hay fever’ symptoms should represent the body fighting off a legitimate invader. Think of how similar nose-related symptoms are when you have flu or a cold.
In the case of allergies, however, the immune system is responding with over-the-top severity to a small issue. Peanuts and pollen should not trigger the same response as an invading flu virus. In the case of chronic sinus infections, while they can have various causes, they typically represent a failure of the body to throw off an acute infectious incident. Instead of over-reacting, as with an allergy, your immune system has become resigned to dealing with the invader causing your body misery. It’s still fighting, but not well. Neither situation is ideal, but can they really influence how you age?
Allergies, sinus issues, oxygen, and aging
Sadly, the answer is that both can adversely affect the way you experience your life. Additionally, both can accelerate signs of aging in the body. Anyone who suffers from allergies can immediately tell you that they affect the quality of life through discomfort and irritation. However, the issues run deeper than that.
Firstly, let’s explore how critical to the body oxygen is. There’s a reason why ‘vampire’ facials and ozonated water are rising wellness trends. There’s also a reason that people say smoker’s age worse than their counterparts. The body relies on sufficient oxygenation in the blood to run the powerhouse that is its regenerative processes. Without sufficient oxygen, tissue regeneration is slowed, wounds will heal less efficiently, and blood flow is not optimal. In order to keep key organs like your brain running as well as possible, the body will reduce circulation to your extremities and skin. It will always ensure that your brain and vital organs receive life-giving oxygen before worrying about issues like your skin and connective tissues.
How is oxygen and your allergies correlated? Well, both hay fever and perpetually blocked sinus passages are severely constricting your airways. This then leads to reduced airflow into the lungs and tissues. It will also lead to you becoming easily winded when you try to exercise. If you can’t exercise, then you can neither strengthen your bones and muscles nor keep yourself fit. Your body already does not have the spare oxygen capacity to perform at its best in day-to-day life. So being prevented from exercising will not be beneficial for you.
To add insult to injury, you will find that your delicate facial skin looks duller, ages faster, and loses its elasticity quicker. Whether you’re oxygen-deprived through smoking or through sinus constrictions, you will look older than you should.
The adverse effects of immune reactions on aging
Both a chronic sinus infection and the presence of an allergic reaction in the body indicate that your immune system is not working properly. In fact, in both scenarios it’s overreacting, leaving you in a perpetual state of immune reaction. This same subacute inflammatory response is present for other allergies, as well as not just pollen or dust allergies, even if you lack the restricted airflow through your sore sinuses.
For someone who has asthma, their breathing difficulties are caused by chronic inflammation of the lungs. Granted. you don’t have those exact same brutal symptoms as allergies. However, you have a low-grade version of that same inflammation perpetually running through your system.
Inflammation is bad news indeed for healthy living, and a lot of research is being done into the inflammation-aging link. It doesn’t help if your body is determined to keep itself inflamed. Unfortunately, both this systemic inflammation and the lack of oxygenation we looked at above can also contribute to poor sleep quality. Without proper, restful sleep, the body and brain both face aging pressures that also contribute to the degeneration of the healthy body. This creates a vicious cycle. Firstly, you have systemic inflammation putting constant pressure on your body. Secondly, your body is short of oxygen. Thirdly, you can’t sleep well to rest and regenerate. It’s the perfect cocktail for aging poorly.
What can you do about your allergies and sinuses?
While many of us think we are resigned to living with our sinus issues, there are solutions. There are numerous specialists like the Dr. Krueger Sleep & Sinus Clinic who can help you manage your existing sinus issues and control allergies effectively. As always, the fight to achieve longevity in a healthy body that has aged as well as possible needs you to be an invested advocate in your own health. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help today. Your nose will thank you for it.