Most of us associate allergies with the usual hay fever-type symptoms: a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. Allergies symptoms don’t stop there, though. They can cause other problems including fatigue. In fact, fatigue is one of the more common complaints among allergy sufferers. Why the link between fatigue and allergies? Here are a couple explanations:
1. Respiratory problems. Allergies can cause inflammation of the nasal passages and airways. This can lead to a runny or congested nose which can cause general difficulty breathing. Interrupted breathing can in turn lead to interrupted sleep.
2. Sleep disruption from allergy medications. Medications may soothe symptoms temporarily, but they can affect your sleep cycle. Antihistamines may cause drowsiness, and decongestants may cause insomnia. These changes may derail your standard sleep balance and make it difficult to get back on track.
3. Overexertion of the immune system. Some physicians believe that when the immune system is consistently taxed, the body may feel persistent fatigue. Allergies occur when your body mistakes harmless allergens in the environment for harmful elements like bacteria or germs. The immune system launches into overdrive to attempt to “fight them off” by releasing chemicals like histamine. The theories go that this constant immune activity depletes overall energy.
If you are feeling consistent fatigue, check with your doctor. There are a number of fatigue-causing health conditions including anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, and sleep apnea, but allergies may also be a strong contributor. Your allergy doctor can assess your history and administer an allergy test to ascertain the causes of your allergies.
Allergy treatment options include medications such as antihistamines and steroids which may be appropriate for seasonal allergies. For allergies that occur over more than a few months of the year, your doctor may recommend allergy immunotherapy. This is available through allergy shots and can also be delivered through sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) which are dosed as liquid droplets under the tongue daily.