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Respiratory Therapist/Allergies and colds


Good Morning!
I am a freelance writer doing some research re: allergies and colds.

My question is: Does having allergies increase your risk of getting a cold, and why?

Thank you for your time.

Sandee Koehler


Hi Sandee,

In general allergies that tend to affect the respiratory system are reported to have a greater tendency to increase the severity of symptoms experienced during a cold than to increase cold frequency. Symptoms can be worse because the cold virus (commonly a human rhinovirus) sometimes triggers allergy-related inflammatory processes in the lower airways that lead to more mucus production, bronchoconstriction and wheezing which can prolong and complicate recuperation. An underlying allergy—related condition, previously unrecognized, is sometimes discovered in this way. So, at least in some cases, cold frequency seems to be more likely to influence the frequency of allergy-related symptoms rather than the other way around.

Still, there are situations in which some allergies may contribute to an increase in cold frequency. In this case it is likely that allergy-related alterations in components of the immune system reduce immune competence allowing infection to occur more effectively through abnormal pathways that favor recurrence. This is in contrast to immune processes in a weak immune system that is not fundamentally abnormal but that may predispose a person to recurrent colds.

Some studies that have investigated the effects of human rhinovirus (HRV)  in asthmatics indicate that some  airway epithelial cells are immune-incompetent, with respect to some human rhinovirus types, which facilitates infective processes and potential progression to aberrant endpoints such as enhanced inflammatory response and asthma exacerbation. Other evidence suggests that some cold-related viruses may also have a causal effect on asthma pathogenesis initiated by infections experienced in infancy.

In any case, frequent colds are often a sign of some level of immune compromise that needs competent medical attention.

I truly apologize  for the long delay in this answer. The question went into the wrong folder and  I did not realize it until I got the recent Allexperts notification.

Thank you for your question and your patience.  

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Stephanie Tyrrell


Respiratory Therapy is a very diverse field encompassing many specialty areas. I have experience in many of these areas and I am willing to answer any question I feel competent to answer within the scope of my experience in the following areas: neonatal ICU and transport, pulmonary rehabilitation, sleep studies, BiPAP/CPAP therapy, Holter monitoring, EKG, ventilator management, chronic and acute respiratory diseases,(i.e. COPD, asthma, restrictive disease, ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), pneumonia, etc) and therapeutics, arterial blood gases, and others. Please see my profile under Experience for a full listing of areas of experience.


I have worked in respiratory therapy for over 25 years in all facets of patient care including level 4 neonatal ICU and neonatal transport, Director of Cardiopulmonary, community health fairs and networking, staff therapist, pulmonary rehabilitation, sleep studies and BiPAP/CPAP therapy, Holter monitoring, EKG, cardiac clinics, pre and post cardiac surgery education and patient care, emergency and long-term ventilator management, chronic diseases such as COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis; acute respiratory distress syndrome, emergency room, home and nursing home respiratory care. I also provided temporary staff to area hospitals through an allied health business I owned and managed, while also working as a staff therapist for the business.

Certified Respiratory Therapist, Registered Respiratory Therapist, Licensed RT, NRP ((Neonatal Resuscitation Program) certified, BS Biology/Botany, MS Environmental Sciences - Toxicology

Past/Present Clients
Thousands of in-patient and out-patient clients in the hospitals I was/am employed by as well as a number of local hospitals that utilized the services of my allied health business. I currently work as a respiratory therapist at a general hospital and a rehabilitation hospital.

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