Allergies happen when your immune system has a strong reaction to a substance that generally shouldn’t cause a reaction. These substances are called allergens.

Most of the time, allergens simply cause mildly uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • coughing
  • itching
  • sneezing
  • skin irritation
  • runny nose

Luckily most people with allergies have only mild discomfort. But many also complain of feeling tired. Can allergies make you sleepy?

How do allergies cause fatigue?

Yes, allergies can make you feel tired. Most people with a stuffy nose and head caused by allergies will have some trouble sleeping. But allergic reactions can also release chemicals that cause you to feel tired. These chemicals help fight your allergies but also cause swelling of your nasal tissues that can make your symptoms worse. A lack of sleep and constant nasal congestion can give you a hazy, tired feeling.

Experts call this fatigue caused by allergies a “brain fog.” Brain fog can make it difficult to concentrate and carry out school, work, and daily activities.

How can you treat fatigue caused by allergies?

If you’re experiencing the effects of brain fog, there are some things you can do to feel less tired. First, you’ll need to stop the cycle of allergy symptoms and fatigue. You can try:

1. Find out your allergens

The first step in getting rid of your brain fog is finding out what’s causing your allergies. If you don’t know what you’re allergic to, you should visit a doctor who specializes in allergies. They’ll run tests to find out what’s causing your symptoms.

Common allergy tests include:

  • Skin tests. This involves pricking your skin with a needle to expose you to a small amount of an allergen. If you’re allergic, you’ll develop a raised bump in the spot of the allergen.
  • Blood tests. If you have allergies, your blood will contain certain cells that show you’re sensitive to certain allergens.
  • Physical exam. There are many physical signs of allergies, from skin irritation to nasal and breathing problems. These can help your doctor diagnose your allergies.

2. Limit your exposure to allergens

Once you know which allergens are causing your symptoms, you can reduce your exposure to them. For example, if you’re allergic to pollen, you can try to stay indoors on days when pollen counts are high.

You can check online with your local weather station to find your local pollen report. You should try to keep your windows closed if you have air-conditioning. If you do spend time outside, it’s important to bathe and change your clothing as soon as you come inside.

3. Take your medication

There are many kinds of allergy medications on the market. Some are targeted at specific allergies while others are more generalized and treat many kinds of allergies.

Your best bet if you want to avoid feeling tired is to take an antihistamine. These medications reduce swelling to temporarily reduce your allergy symptoms.

The only way to fully reduce your allergy symptoms is to cut out your exposure to allergens. Be aware that many antihistamines cause fatigue. So, if you’re trying to stay awake during the day, it’s best to take an antihistamine labeled as “nondrowsy” such as Claritin.

If you have trouble sleeping at night it might help to take an antihistamine that does cause drowsiness. These medications might ease your symptoms and also help you sleep. Benadryl is one antihistamine known to cause drowsiness.

Nasal sprays such as Flonase can also treat your allergy symptoms. These are available in both over-the-counter and prescription form. These sprays usually don’t cause drowsiness. But you should always check the label on your prescription to be sure.

4. Try allergy shots

Allergy shots are considered to be the strongest type of treatment for allergy symptoms. Allergy shots involve taking small injections of allergens under your skin. This helps you become less reactive to these allergens. This means less frequent and severe allergic reactions over time.

Allergy shots can be helpful in reducing fatigue because they provide fast and nondrowsy allergy relief. Talk to your doctor about what allergy shots might work best for you.

5. Try a neti pot

Some people with allergies can reduce their symptoms by using a neti pot. They fill this device with a saline solution that’s poured through one nostril. The solution can help clear your nasal passages and reduce swelling caused by allergies. This can reduce your fatigue.

The takeaway

Allergies cause sneezing, itchiness, runny nose, coughing, and other unpleasant symptoms. Allergies are annoying enough without fatigue thrown into the mix. And these annoying symptoms often make it hard to get any rest at night, leaving you tired all day. Allergy brain fog is unpleasant and can make it hard to function in school, work, and other daily activities.

The good news is there are many ways to get allergy relief and get rid of your brain fog. The first step in finding relief is getting tested for allergies so you know what’s causing your symptoms. Then you can work with your doctor to find a nondrowsy allergy treatment that’s right for you. Knowing your allergies can also help you determine which allergens to avoid.