Cough, headache and runny nose: typical cold or an allergy?

Cough, headache and runny nose: typical cold or an allergy?

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Cough and runny nose should not be hastily dismissed as a harmless cold. This can also be due to a dust mite allergy.
A stuffy nose, reddened eyes and cough - these symptoms belong to many people during the cold season like wet leaves on the sidewalks. Especially in the months from September to March, cold viruses spread quickly. However, experts point out that these symptoms should not be assessed prematurely. Because the typical characteristics of an infectious respiratory disease resemble those of a house dust mite allergy.

There is also an increased susceptibility to infections due to the chronic allergic inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Franziska Ruëff, professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich and an expert in allergology, says: "If there are chronic symptoms such as impaired nasal breathing and then there are repeated rhinitis or sinus infections, then an underlying dust mite allergy should definitely be considered."

Because around 10 percent of all Germans are allergic to the allergens of the mites, which can be found almost everywhere where it is not freshly cleaned. According to estimates by the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB), house dust mite allergy is thus one of the most common allergies. The burden for allergy sufferers is now increasing in autumn: there is more heating, the air in the room is drier, the mites die and release additional allergens when they decay.

The heating air whirls up the allergenic dust. The allergy sufferer reacts with sneezing fits, runny nose and cough. Many initially think that this is a cold. The effects of a dust mite allergy are much more drastic. "Allergies can push people to their physical and psychological limits," says Franziska Ruëff. "This significantly affects the quality of life."

Allergic diseases can affect everyone and arise at any age. It should be understood that people do not always attribute changes in their health and quality of life to allergies. The only certainty here is an allergy test by a physician experienced in allergology, for example a skin or ear, nose and throat doctor. After the diagnosis, he can initiate a possible therapy. The only treatment that combats the cause is specific immunotherapy, also known as hyposensitization. It is recommended by the World Health Organization for the treatment of allergies.

Allergologist Ruëff explains: "Hyposensitization brings the immune system back into balance." Behind an allergy is a misguided immune response by the immune system to the allergen, such as the decay products and excrement of the dust mite. With hyposensitization, the allergy sufferer receives the allergen to which he reacts in the form of syringes, tablets or drops for about three years. He gets the injections from the doctor, he can take drops or tablets at home. It is important that the doctor selects a preparation for which the effectiveness has been proven in studies. Through the regular administration of the allergen, the affected person's immune system gradually learns to no longer perceive the dust mite as a danger. Hyposensitization can not only combat annoying symptoms such as runny nose, cough and tiredness, but also addresses the cause. The costs for this treatment are covered by the private and statutory health insurance companies. (sb)

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