‎Does allergies make me tired?‎

‎Many health conditions, from hay fever to common cold, can make us feel tired. Here’s how to tell what’s causing your fatigue.‎

‎Does allergies make me tired?‎

‎Q: When spring comes, I never know if my lack of energy is the result of allergies or anything else. How can you tell the difference?‎

‎It is estimated that for 26 percent of adults dealing with weather allergies in the United States, spring is not just the time to leave the winter jacket and hang out. “It also heralds the onset of the allergy season in the spring and the accompanying dangerous symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, eye watering, and fatigue,” said Dr Jyoti Tirumalasetti, clinical assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University.‎

‎But figuring out whether fatigue is the result of allergies or something else — such as a cold, Covid-19 or even changing clocks — can be difficult because many symptoms can be the same. Here are some easy ways to tell them all apart.‎

‎Allergies can cause fatigue by indirectly affecting your ability to sleep, said Dr Tirumalsetti. A closed nose or mild wheezing can prevent you from sleeping, or you may wake up with a cough. Dr. Joyce Yu, pediatric allergist and immunologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, said that congestion can cause too much pressure in the upper respiratory tract, which can cause you to become tired. “It sends a signal to your brain and says, ‘Hey, I’m tired,'” she said.‎

‎If you have other allergy symptoms at the same time, your fatigue may be due to allergies, said Dr. Tirumalsetti. These include itching in the eyes, ears, nose and throat as well as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watering in the eyes, slight wheezing or whistling while breathing, post-nursery drips and rash or hives on the skin.‎

‎”If you’re not a coughing, wheezing, smelling person, you probably aren’t really allergic, and your fatigue may be caused by something else.‎

‎Dr. Nina Mengioni, professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, says that common health conditions that can cause fatigue include depression, iron deficiency, thyroid problems and sleep apnea.‎

‎Respiratory infections such as the common cold or even Covid-19 can cause fatigue, as well as other common allergy symptoms such as cough, headache, and runny or clogged nose. But the main symptoms that distinguish allergies from these other conditions are itching in the nose, eyes, and ears. If you have an upper respiratory infection, you may also have fever, sore throat, swollen glands, and muscle pain — which aren’t really linked to allergies, Dr. Yu said.‎

‎The duration of your symptoms can be another gift for what you have, Said Dr. Tirumalsetti. “Your average cold will go away in two weeks, so if you’re feeling relaxed for weeks or months, your symptoms are more likely to be the result of allergies,” he said.‎

‎Since fatigue is a symptom and not a medical condition in itself, Dr. Mangoni said, there is no specific treatment for it. So to relieve fatigue, you “always need to solve the underlying problem.”‎

‎If sinus stress is causing you fatigue or other symptoms like headaches, you can treat it with allergy medications like oral antihistamines, Dr Yu said. But they come with some advantages and disadvantages.‎

‎Oral allergy medications are effective in reducing symptoms such as congestion, itching and sneezing, but a significant downside is that many cause drowsiness, Dr Tirumalsetti said. First-generation oral antihistamines, such as benadryl (defenhydramine) or atarax (hydroxyzine), cause drowsiness compared to second-generation antihistamines, such as claritin (loratidine) or zirretic (citerzine), Dr. Yu said.‎

‎And even those labeled “non-drozy” can still cause some sleep for some people, Dr. Tirumalsetti said, so finding an allergy medication that works for you can take some trial and error.‎

‎”It’s definitely more beneficial to treat your allergies than trying to avoid medication because of the fear of fainting,” Dr. Yu added — at least in his experience of treating patients. And if your symptoms are causing you fatigue from waking up at night, drowsiness from medications can work in your favor.‎

‎Yet there are alternatives to oral medications that can help reduce allergy symptoms, including saline nasal sprays or washes and antihistamines or saline eye drops, Dr Yu said.‎

‎Identifying patterns in your symptoms can help prepare you for allergic weather, Dr Yu said. For example, if you know that fatigue and other allergy symptoms usually occur during spring, you can start collecting your medications a few weeks or months in advance.‎

‎”I think keeping a diary is really helpful,” said Dr. Tirumalasetti, whether it’s tracking your symptoms in a calendar on your phone or writing them in a note app or a physical notebook. “I was at my brother’s house and he has six cats and now I feel itchy and tired. ‘ ‏‎

‎If you know which allergies are a problem for you, you can also use an online tracker to see how poor pollen levels are on a given day across the country. Students at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology or ‎‎Pollen.com‎‎ can be useful, Said Dr. Tirumalsetti. When pollen levels are high, you can take a precautionary measure before going out, such as taking antihistamines, he said.‎

‎Another important strategy to minimize allergy symptoms is to “proof allergies in your home”. If you’re allergic to dust worms, you can use hypoallergenic beds or “allergy-proof”, pillows, and duvet covers that prevent dust worms from entering your bed and help reduce symptoms, he said. To prevent dust and other potential irritation from accumulating, make sure to “wash your sheets once a week,” said Dr. Tirumalsetti. Try to avoid any animals that you may be allergic to, and if you have seasonal allergies, bathing after going out and cleaning the clothes you wear will help you avoid detecting too much pollen or other allergies in your home.‎

‎Dr. Mangoni says that when experiencing fatigue for any reason, it is important to prioritize habits that promote quality comfort, such as sleeping and waking up at the same time every day, “keeping the bedroom distracted” and limiting the use of cell phones before bedtime. He added that rest is very important to handle health concerns, whether they are from stress, cold or allergies.‎

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