More than 67 million Americans suffer from allergies. Common allergens like tree pollen, ragweed, and others are often in full force during the warmer seasons. Seasonal allergies in the spring tend to be the worst, as a wide range of trees, flowers, and plants bloom. However, even during the cooler months, allergens still pose a problem for millions of people.
While pollen production is very minimal during late fall and winter, indoor allergens like mold, mites, dust, and pet dander still cause a wide range of allergy symptoms and side effects. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, keep reading to learn how the condition affects your body.
When your body is allergic to a substance, your immune system responds in various ways. Your body’s immune response can be quite mild, causing a runny nose or coughing. However, an allergic reaction can also cause anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening.
Allergic reactions start in the immune system. When a substance, like pollen, dust, or mold is encountered by someone who is allergic, the body produces antibodies to attack the allergen. This then causes runny nose, itching, wheezing, and itchy eyes.
So how do you become allergic to something? An allergy is developed when the body creates antigens against a substance. Depending on the immune system’s response, repeated exposure may increase the severity of the reaction.
When you think about the side effects of seasonal allergies you likely think of:
- Watery/itchy eyes
- Itchy sinuses
- Ear congestion
While these are the most commonly experienced symptoms, seasonal allergies also cause a wide range of other symptoms that are often overlooked.
Chronic fatigue can also occur as a result of allergies. This is because during an allergic reaction, your body produces chemicals that can cause you to feel tired. Allergies can also make you feel fatigued in that they make it much harder to get sound sleep. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to sleep when you’re coughing or sneezing every other minute!
The good news is that most allergy products contain ingredients that make it much easier to get the sleep you need to rest and heal.
Another often overlooked side effect of allergies is asthma. In fact, the two conditions go hand-in-hand. During an allergic reaction you may experience allergic asthma, which occurs when you come into contact with an allergen. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, a large percentage of the 26 million Americans that suffer from asthma also have allergies.
When suffering from allergies, many people confuse their symptoms with a cold. For both conditions it’s not uncommon to have sneezing, coughing, post nasal drip, or a stuffy nose. For some these symptoms worsen and can turn into an upper respiratory or even a sinus infection. Tell-tale symptoms include fever, cough, and discharge from the nose and mouth.
For most people, seasonal allergy symptoms are quickly remedied using medication or an alternative treatment. When your body is reacting to an allergy, it’s working overtime to prevent more serious side effects. However, if the allergy isn’t treated, the immune system eventually starts to slow down. This leaves room for more powerful allergy symptoms to occur.
An untreated allergy often causes infection and/or inflammation. This is because the immune system is weakened. A weak immune system isn’t able to fight off infection or inflammation, which can lead to headaches, sinusitis, ear infections, and asthma. Chronic sleep issues are another side effect of untreated allergies. Nasal congestion, coughing, and sneezing can cause poor sleep quality. This can lead to insomnia and even sleep apnea.
Other side effects of an untreated allergy include:
- Lack of concentration
- Memory problems
- Decreased productivity
While an untreated allergy may not seem like a serious health issue, allergies leave your immune system and brain function extremely vulnerable.
While the typical symptoms of seasonal allergies are quite frustrating (and even a little painful!), the condition also causes a variety of other side effects. Though many don’t think of it, allergies can be deadly, especially if left untreated.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, ensure you’re taking the proper precautions to minimize exposure. This includes staying indoors during high pollen times, replacing air filters in your home, and taking medication as needed.