Can allergies cause insomnia? This is a serious question for allergy sufferers that find themselves being kept awake at night. In this article, we’ll learn more about allergies and whether or not they’re responsible for disturbing your rest.
What are Allergies?
Allergies are the immune system’s response to foreign substances it believes are harmful to the human body. When a potential allergen irritates your immune system, your body produces antibodies to combat it. This causes, often uncomfortable, reactions in the skin, sinuses, nasal passages, airways, or digestive system, such as inflammation, congestion, and irritation depending on the exact nature of the allergen.
The severity of the allergic reaction varies from person to person and can range from mild symptoms to serious, potentially life-threatening emergencies. While most allergies do not have a cure, treatments can be beneficial to relieving allergy symptoms.
Types Allergies and Their Symptoms
People suffer from many different types of allergies, the severity of which vary for each individual. Certain types of allergies can cause different allergic reactions that range from mild to severe. The most severe reactions can trigger anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening.
Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a common type of allergy that affects most adults and can be commonly seen in children. It is caused by a sensitivity to allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen, or mold. Symptoms of hay fever include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and conjunctivitis.
Food allergies are triggered by contact with or the consumption of certain foods. This can cause tingling in the mouth, hives, swelling of lips, tongue, face, or throat, and stomach upset. In severe cases, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis. Similarly, drug allergies occur with the consumption of certain drugs and can cause:
- Itchy Skin
- Facial Swelling
Allergic reactions can also be caused by insect stings. Symptoms include a large swelling area at the sting site, itching, hives, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. This type of allergic reaction may also lead to anaphylaxis.
Allergies and Sleep
Allergies affect sleep in some instances. Hay fever is the most common type of allergy that does this. Exposure to allergens such as:
- Dust Mites
- Pet Dander
can make it difficult to sleep as one struggles with sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, conjunctivitis, or a combination of symptoms. These irritants are commonly found in the bedroom, particularly in bedding. Pillows and blankets house dust mites and pet dander, which can cause symptoms to flare up while trying to fall asleep.
Nasal congestion and even certain allergy medications can also interfere with sleep. As a result, people with allergies may experience insomnia, nighttime awakenings, and daytime sleepiness, as they suffer from an inability to sleep due to allergies. This also puts them at risk of long term sleep disorders or breathing problems.
Dealing with Allergies
Although allergies cannot be cured, it is possible to treat them or take precautions to ensure allergies do not flare up or get worse. By targeting the cause of allergens, you can relieve allergy-related sleep problems.
Since dust mites are commonly found in the home, particularly within pillows, bedding, and mattresses, cleaning or replacing furniture and decor can help mitigate allergy symptoms. Washing your pillows and bedding regularly and thoroughly with hot water can help prevent the excessive buildup of dust mites. A sealable cover for pillows and mattresses can also help keep dust mites out. Dusting your home and checking filters in vacuums, air conditioning, and heating units and regularly replacing them is also a good way to prevent dust build up.
Hay fever can be a little more difficult to avoid, since it is caused by pollen in trees, grass, or weeds. It tends to be seasonal, with more severity during allergy seasons such as spring, late summer, and early fall. For people who suffer from this type of allergy, it is important to monitor daily pollen counts. On days with a high pollen count, try to avoid going outside, if at all possible. It is also important to minimize indoor pollen count by remembering to keep windows and doors closed, changing clothes when coming from outdoors and drying them indoors, and showering before bed to prevent pollen from reaching your bedding.
For long term allergy sufferers, keeping your home clean and minimizing dust and pollen, especially in the bedroom, is a great way to minimize allergic reactions and stay asleep at night.
Can Allergies Cause Insomnia?
Yes, the symptoms experienced by allergy sufferers can make it difficult to sleep.
However, there is hope! Getting your allergies under control can help you get back to sleeping peacefully at night.
When to Seek Medical Help for Allergies
Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur within minutes or even seconds of exposure to an allergen. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include skin rash or hives, vomiting, breathing difficulty, and shock. If not treated right away, usually with epinephrine, it can cause unconsciousness or even death.
So with our question – can allergies cause insomnia – if you or someone else is exhibiting the symptoms of anaphylaxis, immediate emergency attention is needed. If you are at risk of severe allergic reactions, your doctor may give you epinephrine autoinjectors to use in the event of a severe allergic reaction.
The minutes it takes to rush to an emergency center can be a matter of life or death. For critical conditions and other emergencies, such as severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis, head to an emergency room near you for immediate assistance.