Allergy doctors will tell you that fatigue is one of the more common symptoms associated with allergies. There are a few reasons for this. First, when allergies attack, functions of your respiratory system are impaired, making it harder to get a decent night’s sleep. A stuffed-up nose, for example, may cause you to have trouble breathing well during the night. Allergy-induced cough may get worse when you lay down, making it harder to fall into a deep sleep.
A second reason fatigue may develop is as a side effect to medication you may be taking for your allergies. For example, allergy products commonly contain diphenhydramine. This ingredient is effective at controlling histamines (chemicals your body releases in response to allergens), but it is a powerful sedative. Other types of allergy medications that aim to decongest you include ingredients like pseudoephedrine. This has the opposite effect as diphenhydramine, causing insomnia. When you disrupt your sleep rhythms, it can be hard to get them back in sync for a good night’s rest.
And finally, there is a strong argument that all of the energy your immune system is pouring into “fighting off” allergens takes its toll on the body, rendering you sleepy and without energy.
Here are some steps that will help you minimize fatigue when managing allergies.
1. Identify the cause of your allergies. This can be done with the help of an allergist who can use your health history and the results of an allergy test to determine what you are reacting to. You can then take measures to avoid these allergens when possible and/or get the proper allergy treatment.
2. If allergens are unavoidable, your doctor can prescribe medications that help ensure that your symptoms do not interfere with your sleep. He or she can also steer you toward medications that do not cause sleep disruptions.
3. For a more permanent solution to minimizing or preventing allergies, sufferers can consider allergy immunotherapy through allergy shots or oral allergy drops (sublingual immunotherapy). Immunotherapy is the only treatment shown to treat the underlying allergic disease. (Medications only target the effects of the disease.) A doctor may recommend immunotherapy to you based on the severity and duration of your allergy symptoms.