When most people think of allergy symptoms, the usual culprits come to mind—sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny or stuffed-up nose. But allergies can cause a broad range of symptoms. One of the most common manifestations of allergy is fatigue. Many people with allergies wake up feeling like they scarcely slept and then have trouble keeping their eyes open throughout the day.
What causes allergic fatigue?
There are a few factors that may contribute to allergy-related tiredness:
• Sleep disruption from medication. Antihistamines and decongestants are commonly used to treat the symptoms of allergy. But antihistamines make you sleepy while decongestants perk you up. Allergy medications can disrupt your natural sleep rhythms, making it difficult to get a good night’s rest. When your sleep schedule is topsy-turvy, you’ll be less likely to feel alert and awake throughout the day.
• Difficulty breathing. If your nose is plugged up or runny or if you have an allergy-related cough, you might have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Lack of sleep or sleep that is broken up will leave you feeling depleted.
• Compromised immune system. When the immune system of a non-allergic person encounters a harmless pollen granule, it will simply ignore it. The immune system of an allergic person will react differently, however. It will misconstrue the allergen as a harmful invader (such as a germ, bacteria, etc.) and marshal all of its resources to fight it off. Some doctors theorize that the immune systems of people with allergies are so overworked that they tend to feel worn down. If you have allergies, the internal war playing out inside of your body may be causing you to drag.
What can you do about allergic fatigue?
If your fatigue is related to your allergies, it’s important to treat the source of the problem. Medications can take the edge off of your symptoms, but they don’t touch the allergic disease itself, and, as highlighted above, they can contribute to your sleeping problems.
Start by talking to your physician who can order an allergy test kit and assess your allergies. After performing a physical examination and considering your symptoms and test results, your doctor may prescribe sublingual immunotherapy (under-the-tongue allergy drops) or subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). Immunotherapy can desensitize your body to allergens so that you stop reacting to them with troubling symptoms—including allergic fatigue.