When is it an infection, when is it an allergy?

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The change of seasons seems to bring with it an increase in coughs and sniffles. Sometimes this can be down to seasonal allergies and sometimes this is because a pathogen (a disease-forming germ) has gotten hold of you. Today we look at the difference between seasonal allergies, infections, and lung conditions.

But first, why is it that we seem to come down with colds and flu at the change of season? Our bodies perform their functions at a certain temperature. When the seasons change it forces the body to adapt, and this can have a temporary impact on our immunity, making us more susceptible to infections. In addition, viruses grow better in certain temperatures, and this happens as summer moves into winter and vice versa. It is not the weather that makes you sick but the viruses themselves.

You may be wondering how you can tell if you have an infection or are suffering from an allergy to something. A blocked or runny nose and sneezing are common symptoms of both things, as is a general feeling of tiredness. However, there are other symptoms that are not common to both:

  • Colds typically produce phlegmy coughs. Allergies may cause a cough due to a post-nasal drip, but it is not a wet cough.
  • Sore throats or body aches are another symptom of an infection.
  • Allergies do not cause fever.
  • Colds do not linger; you normally start to feel better after a week to 10 days. Allergies can flare up regularly throughout your life or last for weeks if you are continually exposed to the allergen.
  • Allergies cause itchy, watery eyes.


Allergies are caused by a hypersensitivity of the immune system to certain substances, known as allergens. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, mould, and pet dander. When a person with allergies is exposed to an allergen, their immune system produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies attach to mast cells, which are found in the tissues of the lungs and other organs. When the mast cells are activated, they release histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals can cause inflammation of the airways and other symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Please bear in mind that allergies cause inflammation, swelling and mucus in the nose which can then trap any viruses or bacteria you are exposed to, where they will happily grow, so it is possible to have an allergy which then leads to a sinus infection. 


Viruses are tiny organisms that can cause a variety of infections, including respiratory infections. The most common respiratory viruses include rhinovirus (which cause the common cold), influenza virus (which cause the flu), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which cause lung infection.

When a virus enters the body, it can infect cells in the nose, throat, and lungs. This infection can cause inflammation and damage to the cells. This can lead to a variety of respiratory problems, such as a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, viral respiratory infections can lead to pneumonia and other serious complications.

The impact of allergies and viruses on the lungs

Allergies and viruses can both have a significant impact on the lungs. Allergies can trigger inflammation of the airways, which can lead to symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Viruses can also infect the lungs, causing inflammation and damage. This can lead to a variety of respiratory problems, including pneumonia and bronchitis.

Lung conditions

Lung conditions are illnesses or disorders that affect the lungs. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, viruses, bacteria, and environmental toxins. Lung conditions could be chronic and last for a long time, while others are acute and short-term.

The most common lung conditions include:

  • Asthma is a chronic lung condition that results from inflammation of the airways. This can make breathing difficult and trigger symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of progressive lung diseases that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD reflects damage to the lungs, with air trapped in the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange areas, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness.
  • Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Symptoms of pneumonia include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. It is caused by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. Symptoms of lung cancer include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing up blood.

Symptoms of lung conditions, allergies, and viruses

We have spoken about the symptoms of allergies, colds, and flu already. Other symptoms to look out for if you are unwell may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms in addition to a wet cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue then it is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment. A fever is one of the ways your body fights infection but if your temperature is too high for too long it can be very dangerous. If you have a temperature over 39.4 C as an adult (or 37.8 C in children under 2) then please see a doctor. Babies or toddlers with a fever for more than 48 hours also need to be seen immediately by a medical professional.


Things you can do to help prevent infections:

  • Make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet with a focus on whole foods.
  • Wash your hands frequently and try not to touch your face with dirty hands.
  • Exercise regularly as it helps boost your immune system (however if you are dealing with an active infection please do not exercise until you have recovered).
  • Increase your intake of vitamin-C rich foods like red pepper, citrus, strawberries and even broccoli.
  • eat foods high in zinc as this can help you fight infection.

If you do suffer from allergies, then the following can help minimise their impact in addition to those above:

  • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
  • Avoid exposure to things you know you are sensitive to (fragrances, food, pets, or chemicals).


Treatment will vary depending on the specific condition and its severity. Treatment may involve medication, such as bronchodilators, corticosteroids, or antibiotics. In other cases, treatment may involve lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or avoiding allergens.

Trifectiv Plus Air is our nebulising fluid that is specially formulated for inhalation. It has proven effective in managing the symptoms of infections, sinus, allergies, and other lung conditions. The active ingredient, our non-toxic medical-grade hypochlorous acid (HOCl), helps to prevent infection by destroying pathogens. It also minimises inflammation in the respiratory system, removes any biofilm created by bacterial infections and soothes the nasal passages, improving breathing. The product is safe for all ages, even when breastfeeding and during pregnancy.

Trifectiv Plus Air can also help to prevent infections if used regularly as a prophylaxis.

Remember that if you have any questions or concerns at any time then always talk to your doctor or a medical professional.

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