Tired? It Could be Allergies

Most people know that allergies cause sneezing and a runny nose, but they can cause a host of other symptoms, too, including fatigue. In fact, as many allergists will tell you, fatigue is one of the symptoms that allergy sufferers are most likely to complain about.

Tired because of allergies

(Pixabay / Hans)

So why do allergies make us tired? Here are a few possible reasons:

  • Respiratory symptoms: Allergy typically manifests through symptoms that affect the airways. Allergies may cause nasal congestion that makes it hard to breathe. When you can’t breathe clearly, it’s hard to sleep well at night. If you have an allergy-induced cough, you might find yourself hacking when you lay down to go to sleep. Respiratory problems triggered by allergies can make for restless nights followed by groggy days.
  • Allergy medications: While allergy drugs can help alleviate symptoms, they can also throw off the body’s sleep rhythms. Many allergy mediations contain diphenhydramine, which can subdue chemicals such as histamine that your body releases in the course of an allergy attack. Diphenhydramine makes you very sleepy, however. Other allergy drugs contain pseudoephedrine, which may induce insomnia. The human body prefers established sleep patterns. When sleep is interrupted with allergy medications, the body may have a hard time getting back on track.
  • Overworked immune system: Many experts argue that allergies make the body work overtime, “battling” molds, pollens, and other allergens. When your body is constantly on the offensive, it may have less energy for day to day tasks.

If allergies are wearing you out, start by figuring out what you are allergic to. Using an environmental or food allergy test kit, your doctor can gauge your reaction to hundreds of allergens, including pollen, dust, mold, pet dander, and food proteins. Your test regimen may involve a blood test or a series of skin pricks that penetrate the top layers of the skin.

If you react significantly to allergens, talk to your doctor about an allergy treatment program. If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may be able to prescribe medications that will not affect your sleep schedule. If your symptoms are severe or if they stretch out over more than a few months per year, you may be a candidate for allergy immunotherapy.

Allergy immunotherapy can be prescribed as under-the-tongue drops (sublingual immunotherapy) or as shots. Shots are administered at the doctor’s office a couple of times per week, but allergy drops are safer than shots so they can be dosed at home.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.