Spring "Fever" - Something You Look Forward to... or Dread?

  • For people without allergies, spring is a wonderful time of renewal when the whole world seems to be blooming, temperatures are balmy after the long, cold winter, and life is filled with happy anticipation of good times ahead.


    But for those of us who have seasonal allergies, spring often brings a certain brand of misery as well. When plants are blooming, they're also shedding pollen and the warm & windy days of spring can spread that pollen far and wide, triggering an onslaught of allergy symptoms like sneezing, stuffy nose (and head), itchy eyes and more.


    I speak from experience — it's not fun! I read an article in USA Today recently that talked about a woman in Rochester, NY who retires to her couch "with a bottle of Benadryl and a box of tissues" when spring allergies strike. I can relate. When your nose won't stop and your eyes are so swollen, weepy, and irritated that you can't see, it's hard to take much enjoyment in the beauty around you.

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    But, in addition to those traditional allergy symptoms, researchers are now reporting a number of other less concrete symptoms that may be related to allergies, including:

    • irritability
    • mood changes
    • fatigue
    • depression 

    They're calling it the "allergy blues," and experts are exploring the causes, which may include something in the immune system, which we already know is involved in the allergic process, lack of restful sleep, or some combination of the two.


    During the immune response to allergens such as pollen, certain proteins are released into the body in an effort to protect you from the allergen. It seems these proteins can affect the central nervous system as well, resulting in fatigue, weakness, low mood, and other feelings of illness.


    Other researchers believe that a lack of sleep may be inducing the feelings of depression and lethargy, though. One study showed that 35% of people who had nasal allergies also had insomnia. I'm one of those people, that's for sure.


    Your best bet is to see an allergist, who can help you decide the best course of treatment for your unique situation. Antihistamines may help, but taking the kind that only lasts for 4 hours right before bed is a mistake. Though you may get to sleep initially, when the drug wears off, your symptoms may come roaring back and awaken you.


    Nasal steroids can help, and so can a more "natural" treatment — the nasal rinse. But do talk to your doctor about your symptoms and if you're feeling sad or depressed, think about getting help before it becomes too severe.


Published On: April 21, 2008