Sleep Deprivation and Allergies: Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis can lead to poor sleep which can result in significant daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Numerous studies have found that lack of sleep affects major organs in the body, including the heart, and that sleep deprivation is considered dangerous, especially with persons suffering from allergies. The studies also shows people with allergic rhinitis and other types of allergies have more difficulty sleeping and are more than twice as likely to suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia.

Allergic rhinitis occurs when allergens in the air are breathed by a patient that is allergic to them, irritating and inflaming the nasal passages. Allergens may include dust mites, pollen, molds or pet dander. In people who are allergic to them these particles trigger the release of a chemical in the body that causes nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose. Allergic rhinitis may occur year-round or seasonally. When it occurs it is usually caused by airborne particles from trees, grass, ragweed, or outdoor mold.

In a study by French researchers they compared the prevalence of sleep disorders and other troubles sleeping in a group of 591 people who were being treated for allergic rhinitis with a similar group of 502 adults with these conditions.

The results showed that all sleep orders and sleep-related complaints were much more common in people with allergies than those without. For example, 36 percent of people with allergic rhinitis reported insomnia compared with 16 percent of those without. Another finding showed 42 percent of those with allergic rhinitis versus 18 percent of those without said they had difficulty falling asleep. Lastly, 63 percent of sufferers said they felt like they weren’t getting enough sleep compared with 25 percent of those without allergic rhinitis.

It is suggested that people with allergies should talk with their doctors about any sleeping problems to aid early detection and treatment of sleep disorders and to improve their quality of life.

In addition to the above stated conditions one such disorder Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. OSA is linked with allergic rhinitis and occurs when the muscles of the throat relax and fail to hold the airway open during sleep.

The best way to cope with allergic rhinitis is to avoid allergens and irritants that trigger symptoms with these tips:

  • Keep windows closed and air-conditioning on to prevent pollens and pollutants from entering
  • Stay indoors on day with high pollen or ragweed counts
  • Use a dehumidifier to help prevent the accumulation of mold spores
  • Wash your pets regularly
  • Vacuum often
  • Change air filters regularly

Finally, it is important to allow time for sleep. Being sleep deprived may affect your overall health and prevent your body from defending itself against allergens due to the weakening of your immune system.

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