questions about allergies

The Most Common Questions About Allergies Answered

Allergies affect more than 50 million Americans, and the numbers are increasing. There are many things we know about allergies, while many others are still under research.

Why do some symptoms develop? What are some tips to better manage these symptoms? This article offers answers to some of the most common questions about allergies.

What Causes Allergies?

When a person sneezes, has a stuffy runny nose, and watery eyes, we quickly think of allergies. While it’s true all these symptoms are typically seen in allergies, it’s important to understand what an allergic reaction is.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, an allergy is the result of a chain reaction that begins in your genes and carried out by the immune system. The immune system is in charge of defending the body against compounds like dangerous microbes. If you have an allergy, the immune system overreacts and identifies the allergen as a dangerous invader. This then starts an allergic reaction where you’ll feel symptoms.

For example, if you have a pollen allergy, the immune system sees pollen as dangerous. Therefore, it causes a reaction to defend the body, which leads to allergy symptoms.

The immune system responds by creating antibodies, called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies trigger the release of chemicals, like histamine. This leads to an allergic reaction and the typical symptoms associated with this condition. These symptoms affect the nose, throat, sinuses, ears, skin, or the lining of the digestive tract.

It is important to know that each immunoglobulin E is specific for each type of allergen. For this reason, a person may be allergic to pollen, but not to dust or cat dander. Those who have multiple allergies also have more types of immunoglobulin E antibodies.

why do allergies make you tired

Why Do Allergies Make You Tired?

Feeling fatigued is a common complaint when you have allergies. So you may wonder why you feel tired. How exactly are these allergies draining you of energy? There are a few explanations for this symptom.

Allergies interfere with your sleep. When you’re experiencing allergy symptoms such as a stuffy nose or cough, you don’t sleep well. In the morning, you’ll feel drowsy, have low energy, and experience brain fog. Luckily, studies found that improving symptoms with corticosteroid sprays also improves the quality of sleep and life for those with allergies.

Allergies cause acute inflammation in the nasal passages, sinuses, digestive tract, skin. There is also a low-grade, chronic inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation affects the brain and nervous system and promotes fatigue through the activation of the stress response system also known as the HPA axis and increased oxidative stress.

Anti-allergy medications, particularly antihistamines, cause drowsiness because they block histamine receptors. One of the key functions of histamine is to keep your brain alert. Newer antihistamine drugs like cetirizine (Zyrtec) are less sedating.

Finally, allergies are often associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. According to research, atopy coexists with chronic fatigue syndrome in more than 50 percent of people.

How do you manage fatigue? Limit exposure to allergens, manage symptoms of allergies, and improve your sleep. There are three things you can do to improve your quality of sleep.

  1. Sleep in a completely dark room
  2. Set the temperature to a cool 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit/15.6-19.4 degrees Celcius
  3. Wear blue light blocking glasses at night to improve melatonin levels
why do allergies get worse at night

Why Do Allergies Get Worse at Night?

There are a few reasons why symptoms of allergies are worse at night.

If you have an allergy to pollen, you are also more likely to have allergies to other substances found in your bed. For example, dust mites, mold, carpets, fluffy blankets, or pillows with natural feathers could be triggers.

You may also bring allergens into your home after a day out. Your clothing may have pollen on them if you spent time outside. If you wear the same clothes at night or in your bed, this could trigger your allergies more.

The position of the head and body are also factors of allergies becoming worse at night. Lying down worsens congestion and excess mucus drips down your throat. This can trigger more inflammation, wheezing, and coughing.

You can improve your nightly allergy symptoms by making a few changes in your home and routine.

  • Use hypoallergenic bedding
  • Change bed sheets regularly
  • Change your clothes when you get home
  • Don’t allow pets in the bedroom
  • Manage your symptoms during the day
why do allergies cause dry throat, dry mouth, and coughing?

Why Do You Get a Cough, Dry Mouth, and a Dry Throat from Allergies?

Allergies affect your breathing. As a result, you may need to rely on your mouth to breathe instead of your nose. If the air is cold it can irritate and dry out the mouth and throat. Some anti-allergy medications can also cause dry mouth, dry throat, and coughing.

Gargling salt water or using Neti pot for saline irrigation can soothe your dry throat and mouth. It can help relieve coughing too. Warm lemon and honey in tea is another great home remedy. Stay well hydrated, throughout the day to avoid dryness. You may also want to consider investing in an air purifier and humidifier.


Allergies can be tough to manage and a mysterious condition overall. It’s important to pay attention to allergens that bother you and avoid them when possible. Take steps to manage your symptoms with medications and home remedies. Lastly, talk to your doctor and ask questions about allergies for the best advice.

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