Can Allergies Make You Tired? Insights and Solutions

Allergies happen when your immune system mistakenly recognizes an exogenous substance, an allergen, as harmful and triggers an exaggerated response to fight against it. All the efforts your body takes to defend itself can consume a lot of energy, which, in turn, can make you feel tired. But do not worry — there are some things you can do to minimize fatigue and other allergy-related symptoms.

Allergies can indeed make you tired. They happen when your body recognizes a foreign substance — an allergen molecule — as a possible threat to your health and reacts accordingly to try to get rid of it.

Unfortunately, your immune system (the body's main line of defense) may mistakenly identify a harmless substance as dangerous, triggering an exaggerated response against it.

Countless allergens have been identified, including pollen, dust mites, pet dander, insect stings or bites, mold, certain types of foods, perfumes, and household chemicals, among others. When you come in contact with an allergen you are sensitive to, your immune system activates and triggers a complex chain reaction known as the 'allergic cascade.'

Several allergy-inducing and pro-inflammatory compounds — like histamines — are released in the allergic cascade. These compounds trigger allergy symptoms that result in runny or stuffy nose, asthma, and gastrointestinal discomfort, just to name a few. They can also lead to acute (immediate) and chronic (long-term) inflammation in the affected organs and systems.

After exposure to an allergen, your body may take a toll due to the energy consumed to fight the allergen. In some cases, consistent exposure to allergens can even result in chronic inflammation, which has been linked to the onset of fatigue.

In addition, the intake of certain drugs to fight allergies, such as antihistamines, can also contribute to the feeling of tiredness, drowsiness, and fatigue experienced by many people as a medication side effect.

What are the symptoms of allergy fatigue?

Fatigue, which can be defined as a lack of energy and strength that interferes with a person’s daily activities, is a symptom that may be linked to prolonged or concurrent allergies. Allergy fatigue can make you feel depleted beyond the usual exhaustion you may experience after a normal day, and it might not go away with rest.

Furthermore, when prolonged in time, allergy fatigue can also potentially lead to mental fog symptoms, such as confusion, inability to stay focused, and forgetfulness.

Although it can vary from person to person, all these symptoms may lead to a diminished quality of life, a decrease in your productivity levels, and, overall, make you feel unmotivated. However, since fatigue can happen for many reasons, it can be difficult to determine whether your allergies are the culprit.

In this regard, there are some things that can help you figure out if your fatigue comes from your allergies:

  • You are experiencing other allergy symptoms, such as a dry cough, runny nose, itchiness, and/or watery eyes
  • You have been feeling fatigued for as long as you have been experiencing other fatigue symptoms
  • You have noticed feeling fatigued only when certain seasons, like spring or fall, arrive
  • Your fatigue does not improve with rest

On the other hand, if you feel fatigued and experience symptoms like a sore throat, muscle aches, and/or fever, you may have an infection like the flu or COVID-19.

Why do allergies make you feel so bad?

Allergies can make you feel tired, not only from the strain they put on your body but also from the sleep disturbances that the allergy symptoms may cause during the night.

Coughing, congestion, sneezing, itchiness, and breathing difficulties can make it hard for you to get a good night’s sleep, which, when prolonged in time, can lead to stress, tiredness, irritability, concentration issues, and even depression and anxiety symptoms.

Furthermore, feeling like you have a constant cold, needing to carry tissues everywhere, and sometimes avoiding some situations or even dreading going outside for fear of getting in contact with the allergen can seriously impair a person’s quality of life.

How to fix allergy fatigue? 5 helpful tips

As we previously discussed, allergies are triggered by a complex mechanism involving a wide range of cells and chemicals that work together to protect the body against perceived threats.

Because of this, a single drug may not alleviate all allergy symptoms, and unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies yet.

Nevertheless, not all hope is lost, as there are some things you can do to minimize the symptoms and prevent allergic responses from happening so frequently, which in turn may help decrease your allergy fatigue, including:

1. Identify allergens

The first step to help minimize allergies is to identify your triggers. However, this might be more challenging than it seems. Some people may be allergic to multiple things, and finding the specific allergen or allergens may prove to be tricky.

In this case, getting an allergy test, such as a blood allergy test or a skin prick allergy test, can help you identify the substances you are allergic to. A doctor can help you find out which test better suits your needs.

2. Limit exposure to triggers

Once you find out your allergens, you can start working to minimize your exposure to them. For instance, if you are allergic to pollen, checking the levels of it in the air before going outside may help you take preventive measures.

If you are allergic to dust mites, you can use allergen-proof bed covers, remove carpets and plush toys from your house, and wash your bedding with hot water weekly.

Likewise, if you are allergic to insect bites, you can avoid going to areas where you know you might get bitten, or you can use proper clothing and insect repellent when going outside.

3. Maintain a clean environment

Avoiding the allergens that trigger an immune response in your body is just one part of the equation. You also need to maintain a clean home environment to minimize your risk of accidental exposure further.

Some tips you can use to keep your home allergen-free include:

  • Vacuum frequently.
  • If possible, use an air purifier.
  • Keep humidity levels in check and avoid having damp areas in your house.
  • Keep your windows closed, especially during windy days.
  • Avoid getting in contact with any animals you may be allergic to.

Following these tips will likely reduce the frequency of your allergy symptoms.

4. Take your allergy medication in the evening

Some antihistamines that are prescribed to help you alleviate your allergy symptoms may cause drowsiness and sleepiness. Therefore, you can take your allergy medicines in the evening to get better rest, especially if you are experiencing fatigue and sleep disturbances related to your allergy symptoms.

Taking your allergy medicine in the evening rather than in the morning will also help you stay more alert during your daily activities. However, not all allergy medicines are intended to be taken once daily, so always make sure to talk to your doctor before changing your drug schedule.

5. Rinse your sinuses

Nasal irrigation with saline solution or sterile water may help alleviate your allergy symptoms and even decrease their frequency. Use a neti pot or bulb syringe and slowly start pouring the solution into one nostril while letting it drain out the other.

You can repeat this procedure daily or as needed. Just make sure to follow proper hygienic measures each time.

When to consult with a healthcare professional

You should always consult with your doctor if:

  • You are experiencing fatigue that is not related to an obvious acute disease (like a cold or flu)
  • You have fatigue that lasts for more than 2 weeks
  • You are having frequent allergy symptoms that interrupt your daily activities
  • You are having allergy symptoms that disrupt your sleep

Furthermore, consulting with a doctor will help you determine the best course of action and the proper allergy medication regimen for your specific case if you have frequent allergy symptoms.

In conclusion, many people suffer from allergies, and while it is a condition that can be managed, it is undeniable that, in some cases, the resulting symptoms, like sleeping disturbances or fatigue, can seriously impact a person’s quality of life, especially when left untreated.

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