Allergy season is the worst. Your immune system takes a hit. You deal with uncomfortable symptoms like itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, and excess mucus. Not only that, but you're also completely exhausted. Why do seasonal allergies make it seemingly impossible to get a good night's sleep? How can you overcome the fatigue and brain fog? Should you be on allergy medications or are there other ways to prevent allergy fatigue? Let's explore why you're experiencing allergy symptoms, why you feel tired, and how you can fight allergy fatigue.
There are all types of allergy triggers that might cause that runny nose, nasal congestion, and brain fog. Common environmental causes of allergic reactions include:
Plus, there are the triggers that you might be dealing with on a daily basis year-round, like dust, dust mites, animal dander, and animal fur.
Remember, animal dander and other allergens can float around unseen to the human eye.
You're experiencing allergy symptoms because your immune system believes it's been invaded, even though those invaders (like pollen and grass) truly aren't dangerous.
So, your immune system comes to your defense by producing antibodies. These antibodies attack the invaders and end up releasing a chemical called histamine. And this is what ultimately causes those pesky allergy symptoms. (That's why certain antihistamines can help alleviate or even prevent allergy symptoms. More on this in a little bit!)
No, you're not going crazy: Allergy fatigue is very real. You know how when you have the common cold or flu, you get super drowsy? It's a similar situation with seasonal allergies. Your body is having to work harder and use extra resources to fight off this invader, and that can leave you feeling more depleted.
There might be other things contributing though, too. For instance, if you're experiencing nasal congestion, that can disrupt sleep. It's already hard to breathe, as is. And then, when you lay down and your throat and neck muscles relax, it can restrict the airways further. If you're already dealing with a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea, allergies can make them worse. (Sleep apnea is when your breathing repeatedly starts and stops while you're asleep.)
Plus, if your airways are inflamed, your nasal passages might be narrower than normal, and — you guessed it! — this can make it even more challenging to get a good night's sleep.
That's why allergies can make you tired.
So, you've determined that you feel tired due to your allergies. What can you do about it?
First, we're going to advise you to go to the source. Instead of treating allergy symptoms, address the cause (if possible). Do you know what exactly are your triggers?
If you don't, then you might need to visit the doctor for an allergy test.
For example, eNational Testing offers panels for allergies and sensitivities. We also offer our Comprehensive Food Sensitivity Panel, Celiac Panel, and Environmental Allergen Profile. These are simple blood draws that can help you determine what's got you feeling down.
If an allergy test doesn't provide any real answers, then you'll want to explore what other issues might be preventing you from getting quality sleep.
Once you know what you're allergic to, try to limit your exposure to those allergens. Here are a few simple tips:
Essentially, what you want to do is stop an allergic reaction before it starts. If you can do that, then your sleep quality will improve, you'll get a good night's rest, and the allergy fatigue will subside.
If you've tried all of these things and you still feel tired, there are other avenues you can explore. Certain over-the-counter medications can bring you allergy relief and even help you fall asleep. Just make sure you're taking the right allergy medication at the right time of day.
For example, some people take an antihistamine to help with their symptoms. However, antihistamines induce drowsiness. So, you don't want to take those until you're ready to go to bed. That said, if you're having trouble sleeping, this type of allergy medication might be what you need.
There are also nasal sprays you can try. Check the labels because there are different types! You might find decongestant sprays, antihistamine sprays, and even steroid sprays. They can help allergy sufferers with symptoms like itchy eyes, a runny nose, and congestion. But again, you want to take the right allergy medication at the right time.
Also worth noting is that many of these sprays are not intended for long-term use. So, you'll still need to find another solution to your allergy fatigue.
Allergy shots — also called immunotherapy — are another option. You typically receive allergy shots at specified time intervals, like every three to five years. These can be very effective for chronic sufferers but talk to an allergist first.
Even if you're aiming to stay away from allergy medications and want to try to soothe your symptoms naturally, it's still wise to speak with a healthcare provider before you make any changes.
By now, you know why allergies make you tired and what you can do to get a good night's rest. So, yes, it's possible to kick allergy-related fatigue to the curb!
First, figure out what your allergy triggers are. What's causing your runny nose and other symptoms? What's making your sleep apnea worse? What has your immune system working overtime? Find the source of your allergic reaction.
Second, try the tips we recommend to stop triggers and reduce airborne allergens before they can interrupt sleep – like using an air purifier and containing pet dander.
If you still need help with your allergies, talk to your healthcare provider about allergy shots, allergy drops, and other allergy medications. If the certain allergy medications you're considering taking contain antihistamines, be sure to take them at nighttime because they can make you tired.
We know that allergies can make your life harder. But with both a proactive and reactive approach — and guidance from your healthcare provider— you can breathe properly, sleep better, and put your allergies on the back burner.
eNational Testing has more than 2,000 locations around the United States. You can order your allergy test online in just a few clicks, and you don't need to see your doctor first.
Should you have follow-up questions, a clinician will be available to speak with.
Find a testing center near you and order your test now!