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BellaOnline's Allergies and Colds Editor

Allergy blues

Tired, cranky and spacey are the best words to describe me when spring allergies strike. My drippy nose and congestion make me feel fatigued and unable to concentrate. I feel more like curling up on the couch than doing the things I enjoy.

Spring has sprung and with it more than 40 million Americans, just like me with seasonal allergies, are experiencing postnasal drip, cough, congestion, sinus headaches, loss of smell and taste, itchy and watery eyes and nose bleeds. But many also will feel irritable and fatigued, and have difficulty focusing and getting things done. In some cases, the sufferers will have feelings of depression.

Is there a scientific basis for “allergy blues” or are they caused by lack of sleep and feeling miserable? In recent years, researchers have uncovered some evidence to substantiate that allergic reactions can cause feelings of fatigue and depression.

During an allergic reaction, proinflammatory cytokines or proteins are released by the immune cells to protect an allergic individual from the pollen or allergens that have entered the body. These cytokines may directly impact the central nervous system and stimulate the release of a chemical in the brain that leads to inability to concentrate, tiredness, low energy, weakness and depression.

Did we really need a study to tell us why our cheerfulness and alertness decline during the allergy season? Seasonal allergies are like having a cold that extends from March to September. Of course, you are going to be tired and cranky.

Allergy sufferers also may experience sleep disturbances that play a role in fatigue and malaise. Seasonal allergy sufferers tend to have more sleep problems than non-sufferers, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. More than a third of those studied reported insomnia.

Antihistamines, taken by many allergy sufferers, may contribute to sleep disturbances. Allergy drugs may make you feel sleepy until the effects wear off. Some may contain decongestants that tend to stimulate you, rather than make you sleepy.

The best way to overcome the “allergy blues” and other allergy symptoms is to control your hay fever. Try using a nasal rinse two or three times a day depending on the severity of your symptoms. Ask your doctor about allergy shots or immunotherapy to reduce your allergies.

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