If you’re one of the millions of people who experience allergies, then you’ve probably felt some of the most common symptoms like nasal congestion, a sore throat, coughing, or itchy eyes. What about the times when you felt exhausted from your allergy symptoms? Can allergies cause fatigue? The answer is a resounding yes.
Today, we’re delving into answering the question, “Can allergies make you tired?” and explaining what causes these feelings. Learn how to tell if it's allergies or if there’s something else occurring alongside what allergy tiredness can feel like. Gaining control over your allergies begins with learning how to identify them and how your body reacts.
Can Allergies Make You Tired or Not?
So, can allergies make you tired? It may sound strange at first, but yes, allergies can make you experience feelings of tiredness or fatigue. They’re able to impact your energy levels through various channels of symptoms. This allergy tiredness is often associated with brain fog from allergies and can be disruptive to your daily routine.
Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States(1) and are experienced by over 50 million people. The most common allergy triggers that may cause fatigue are dust mites, mold, and different types of pollens as well as dog or cat dander — all of which may cause fatigue.
Allergy Tip: Dust mites are one of the most common allergens and spread easily. Learn how to know if you have dust mites in your home after this article.
How Can Allergies Cause Fatigue?
You feel tired when allergy symptoms flare up, but how do allergies cause fatigue? The relationship between allergies and fatigue is complex, involving a combination of immune responses, inflammatory processes, and sleep disruption.
Allergy Fatigue From Immune Response
People with allergies are experiencing an immune response to certain triggers (called allergens) that cause their bodies to overreact to harmless substances. When your body encounters these allergens, it releases chemicals meant to protect it, including histamines, to fend off the perceived threat.
This immune response requires energy, as your body mobilizes its resources to combat the allergens. As a result, the energy demand can lead to feelings of tiredness and fatigue.
Allergy Tiredness From Inflammation
Bodily inflammation, such as sinusitis, is often associated with allergies making you tired. This systemic inflammation can lead to the release of cytokines, which are signaling proteins that regulate immune responses. These cytokines can signal your body to divert energy from other processes towards addressing inflammation.
This energy diversion can contribute to overall tiredness or feelings of fatigue from allergies.
Allergy Fatigue Caused By Sleep Deprivation
Can allergies make you feel tired even if your physical symptoms aren’t severe? The answer to this is another resounding yes. One of the most significant ways allergies can make you tired is through sleep deprivation and disruption.
Allergy symptoms, such as nasal congestion, sneezing, or itching, can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. Additionally, allergy sufferers tend to be mouth sleepers, which impacts the quality of your breathing and leads to frequent wakings and disruption from REM sleep. Quality sleep is essential for restoring energy levels and keeping you functioning at full capacity throughout the day.
When allergy symptoms interfere with your sleep, you might wake up feeling groggy, fatigued, and less alert during the day.
Hay Fever and Allergy Tiredness
One of the most common ways allergies can cause tiredness is from hay fever symptoms. Hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis, is a specific type of allergic reaction that primarily affects the nose and eyes.
Your symptoms of hay fever are likely to include sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. Studies have shown a significant connection between hay fever and fatigue(2). The persistent inflammation and discomfort caused by seasonal allergic rhinitis can also contribute to poor sleep quality and increased daytime tiredness.
Determining If Allergies Are Making You Tired
Fatigue can stem from various sources, including allergies, physical conditions, and mental factors. Distinguishing between these possibilities requires a comprehensive approach.
Steps to determining if allergies are making you tired should include:
- Observing patterns: Make a note of when your fatigue occurs. If it aligns with specific seasons or allergen exposure, allergies could be the catalyst.
- Considering your symptoms: Evaluate other symptoms accompanying your fatigue. Allergy tiredness often comes with common symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, or brain fog. If you experience these alongside tiredness, you may be living with allergies. Conversely, symptoms like acute pain, weakness, or mood changes might point to different underlying causes.
- Assessing sleep quality: Take a look at your current sleep quality and experiences. Allergies can disrupt sleep due to symptoms like congestion or itching. If you're regularly experiencing poor sleep, this could contribute to daytime fatigue.
- Getting a medical evaluation: Consult a healthcare professional to rule out underlying physical conditions such as thyroid problems, anemia, or chronic illnesses that can lead to fatigue.
- Considering mental factors: Consider your mental and emotional well-being. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can lead to fatigue(3). If you're experiencing mood changes alongside tiredness, a mental health evaluation might be beneficial.
- Looking at your health history: Your medical history can provide valuable insights as to whether or not allergies are making you tired. Chronic conditions like allergies, autoimmune disorders, or sleep apnea could contribute to fatigue. Discuss your medical background with a healthcare provider.
- Taking an allergy test: Going to a CLIA-certified lab or taking a home allergen test to determine your body's response to the most common indoor and outdoor allergens in your region. Once you have your results, consult an allergy specialist for a custom allergy treatment plan to manage your symptoms.
Determining whether allergies are making you tired involves examining the timing, symptoms, sleep quality, and potential medical and mental health factors. Consulting allergy specialists and taking a blood allergy test can aid in identifying the root cause of your fatigue and guide appropriate interventions.
Allergy Test Note: How accurate are blood allergy tests? Not all of them are created equal. Learn more about choosing the right test for you.
What Allergy Tiredness Feels Like
Allergy tiredness, also known as allergic fatigue, is a phenomenon where individuals experience feelings of exhaustion and lack of energy as a result of their allergic reactions. While not as widely recognized as other allergy symptoms, such as sneezing or itching, allergy tiredness can significantly impact a person's daily life.
So what can allergies make you tired enough to feel? Some of the most common feelings associated with allergy fatigue include:
- Lethargy: Allergy tiredness often manifests as a general sense of lethargy and weariness.
- Persistent fatigue: Unlike occasional tiredness that results from a busy day, allergy-related fatigue tends to persist over time as long as your allergies continue.
- Brain fog: Allergy tiredness can affect cognitive function, leading to difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision-making, making you feel tired or drained.
- Insomnia or sleep apnea: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be caused by poorly controlled allergy symptoms(4).
- Feelings of depression: Allergy fatigue can sometimes lead to feelings of frustration, irritability, and even mild depressive symptoms.
Recognizing the sensations of allergy fatigue is vital to learning management strategies. If you're experiencing persistent tiredness and suspect allergies might be the cause, consult an allergy specialist to help you accurately identify your allergies and develop a plan to alleviate your symptoms and improve your energy levels.
Can allergies make you tired? Not only is the answer to this question yes, but it’s also extremely common to feel fatigue in association with allergies. The best way to address this is to figure out your triggers and consider addressing the root cause of your symptoms with allergy immunotherapy.
- American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. (2018). Allergy Facts.https://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies
They say knowledge is power. We couldn’t agree more. Learn about the chronic health condition that affects 50 million Americans every year.