“People with allergic conditions such as hay fever, rhinitis, and atopic eczema, may have a lower risk of COVID-19 infection, especially if they also have asthma,” according to a large, population-based study of UK adults, published online in the respiratory journal Thorax.
Contrary to the findings of other studies, older age, male gender, and other underlying conditions aren’t linked to a heightened risk of infection, the research indicates, although underlying conditions are linked to the severity of symptoms for those who do get COVID.
Reducing your risk of getting COVID
The other way to be healthier is to boost your immune system by eating a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables that deliver antioxidants and vitamins, phytochemicals, and fiber, all of which strengthen your immune system and fortify your body against invaders. The 7 Best Foods to Eat to Fight Off Colds and Flu are the same ones that will help you not suffer from COVID-19.
Allergy sufferers and those with asthma are more protected against COVID-19
The researchers surveyed over 14,000 adults (mean age of 59 years; 70 percent were women, and 95 percent were white) in the United Kingdom, getting details about their age, weight, height, households, jobs, lifestyle habits, longstanding medical conditions, whether they took medications, their vaccination status, their diet, and supplement intake. As expected, elevated BMI also was associated with higher odds of infection. But what was a surprise was that atopic diseases such as eczema or dermatitis and hay fever and allergic rhinitis were also associated with 23 percent lower odds of developing COVID-19.
Participants with “atopic disease” – clinical syndromes such as allergies, that are defined by a group of symptoms – and also suffer from asthma had a 38 percent lower risk of infection, even after the use of steroid inhalers was factored in, according to the researchers. “People who have allergic conditions such as hay fever, rhinitis, and atopic eczema appear to have a lower risk for COVID-19, especially if they also have asthma,” Martineau told Healio. “This may be due to their having a lower expression of ACE-2, the receptor via which SARS-CoV-2 enters human cells.”
“Among those who had atopic disease and asthma, the risk was even lower: 38 percent. This association held true even after factoring in the use of steroid inhalers,” according to the study. Taking drugs to dampen down the immune system response (immunosuppressants) was also associated with 53 percent lower odds of COVID-19 infection, though this may reflect greater shielding from infection by these patients, according to the researchers.
How else can you lower your risk of infection?
Who was more likely to be infected
Other findings of the study included: Those study subjects who are of Asian or Asian British ethnicity were more than twice as likely to become infected as their white counterparts. Households with overcrowding and also those that allowed socializing with other households within the previous two weeks ended up with more infections. The number of visits to indoor public places increased the likelihood of infection, as did having a people-facing job, other than in health and social care (where precautions are taken to protect workers). Being overweight or obese was also associated with a heightened risk of infection from COVID-19.
Bottom Line: Having Allergies May Lower Your Risk of COVID-19
But even if you are an allergy sufferer and have asthma, to lower your risk of infection, stay out of crowds, wear masks, get vaccinated, maintain a healthy weight, and eat a mostly plant-based diet to boost your immune system.