Am I Getting Sick or is it Allergies?

By Melani Gerenia

This time of year proves to be challenging for both allergy sufferers and those with low immune systems.  Identifying the cause of your symptoms correctly will dictate what you need to do to get back into the Land of the Healthy.


Allergies are an overreaction of your immune system to something your body encounters.  Triggers can be environmental (pollen, mold, etc), dietary (gluten, etc), or medication related, your body has marked those substances as harmful and, as a result, raises alarms whenever it senses their presence.  Autoimmune conditions can be included here as well because in these cases the body mistakes particular tissues in your body as being harmful and attacks them.


Getting sick, on the other hand, involves your body encountering a virus or bacteria and being unable to successfully fight it off.  Whether your immune system is weak and you can’t seem to kick that cough or you feel like you encountered the superbug of the century and have claimed the bathroom as your permanent residence, your immune system is having a hard time knocking it out.  

Symptoms can overlap between getting sick and allergies, runny nose, congestion, cough, etc. so how are we supposed to know whether our immune system is too active or not active enough?

Acupuncture is an effective way to address this problem because it is an immunomodulator.  That is a fancy term that means we can both boost as well as turn down your immune system depending on what your body needs.  We are able to identify imbalances and enhance communication throughout your body to ensure every system has what it needs to function properly.  With that being said, I’m referring to environmental allergies mostly. If you have allergies that cause anaphylaxis (difficult breathing, constriction of airways, need to carry an Epipen) this article is not referring to those allergies.

Sometimes there are cases where your body needs both boosting as well as calming down (complicated, I know) and this can be the case with chronic environmental allergies.  The key here is to prepare and boost your immune system before symptoms start. Typically, 6-8 weeks before they start is a good time. Employing this method, when allergy season hits, allergy symptoms are usually more manageable, less severe, and last a shorter period of time.  Over time, some lucky ducks are able to avoid allergy symptoms altogether.