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Respiratory

Allergies + Apnea

Allergies can significantly impact the quality of your day and even 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 a year reappear. As beautiful as this time of year is, many are having increased allergy symptoms. Allergies can lead to problems sleeping and even obstructive sleep apnea. Here’s what you need to know about the connection.

Allergies

When you have an allergy, your body treats whatever trigger it is 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 is narrowed. This makes sleeping normally 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 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 will 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 most susceptible to developing a chronic sleep disorder. If you think you or a loved one may have or be on the verge of developing OSA, here are allergy related symptoms.

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing

 

What can be done?

There are many over-the-counter medicines that can be taken to help with the 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.

Allergies and sleep apnea impact millions of people. If you are one of those millions, do not hesitate to act today!