Allergies can significantly impact the quality of your day and even the quality of your sleep. Now that it’s officially spring, we can enjoy all of the perks that come with the seasonal change. We see blooming flowers, bright green grass and all kinds of plants that you haven’t seen in over a year begin to reappear. As beautiful as this time of year is, many are experiencing an increase in allergy symptoms. Allergies can lead to problems sleeping and even obstructive sleep apnea. Here’s what you need to know about the connection.
When you have an allergy, your body treats the allergen as a threat. This results in classic allergic symptoms such as hives, watery eyes, congestion and at its worst, anaphylactic shock. Seasonal allergies are also sometimes referred to as allergic rhinitis. This is when the nose becomes inflamed due to the reaction of allergens in the air. Those with allergic rhinitis often have sleep problems.
How Allergies Can Impact Sleep
When the respiratory system suffers an allergic reaction, the airway can become narrowed. This makes breathing while sleeping a problem. If you’ve never experienced allergies, but have had a cold, you have an idea of what it’s like. Obstructive sleep apnea is when the muscles in the throat relax and block the airway during sleep. This means that breathing temporarily stops throughout the course of the sleep cycle. When you have allergies, you likely aren’t getting the proper amount of sleep your body requires and you could feel an overall sense of fatigue and fogginess throughout the day.
Some individuals may only have allergies that flare up during certain seasons, but those who have issues year round are more susceptible to developing a chronic sleep disorder. If you think you or a loved one may have OSA, here are some allergy related symptoms to look for.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
What can be done?
There are many over-the-counter medicines that can be taken to help with side effects. Some people with severe allergies have had success with allergic immunotherapy or allergy shots. Overall, the main goal to manage this is to reduce inflammation in the nose so that there is no nasal congestion and blocked breathing. If you think you may have OSA, it is time to meet with your doctor to discuss options and testing. The sleep tests are quick, easy and painless.