Seasonal Allergies and ADHD

Community Member

Autumn is here and while we admire the beauty of the changing leaves and enjoy the cooler temps, it is also a time when many people don't wish to step outside of their house due to allergies.   The pollen from trees, grasses, molds and particularly ragweed can be especially troublesome to allergy sufferers during these fall months.   And from what I have been reading in the literature, seasonal allergies can be quite common for those who have ADHD.

One research study conducted by Brawley et al (Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004 Jun; 92(6):663-7) concluded that: "Most children with ADHD displayed symptoms and skin prick test results consistent with allergic rhinitis. Nasal obstruction and other symptoms of allergic rhinitis could explain some of the cognitive patterns observed in ADHD, which might result from sleep disturbance known to occur with allergic rhinitis. Therefore, evaluation and treatment of allergic rhinitis could benefit patients with ADHD."

Yet some people are cautious in attributing a definite connection between seasonal allergies and ADHD. CNN Health writer, Anne Harding quotes:   "Some research has linked ADHD to allergic conditions such as hay fever, added Goodman, who directs the Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center of Maryland in Lutherville, but "the research is in no way conclusive or definitive."

Clearly more research needs to be done to investigate the correlation between allergies and conditions like ADHD.   As a highly unscientific measure, it does seem that many people with ADHD talk about having some sort of allergy on the various ADHD forums.   Perhaps there is something to this.

What are the symptoms of seasonalallergic rhinitis (otherwise known as hay fever)?

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy and runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Red, itchy or watery eyes
  • Itchy or sore throat

These allergy symptoms can make anyone miserable, tired, and they can also interfere with sleep.   It is suggested that these symptoms can aggravate the symptoms of ADHD, making one feel less able to concentrate or perform well at school or work.   Although people of all ages can experience seasonal allergies they usually peak in childhood and adolescence.

One of the problems with having such allergies and also having ADHD is that the ADHD and allergy medications may not mix well together.   ADDitude Magazine gives us this warning:   "Some doctors insist that children on stimulants also avoid cold/sinus/hay fever medications that contain decongestants (antihistamines without decongestants are okay); over-the-counter or prescription weight control medications; steroids, taken orally or injected; and asthma medications containing albuterol or theophylline. All of these may give a child a mildly unpleasant "buzz."

And this on-line drug site also says to use caution about taking certain medications including decongestants with ADHD drugs.

"Avoid taking diet pills, caffeine pills, or other stimulants (such as ADHD medications) without your doctor's advice. Taking a stimulant together with a decongestant can increase your risk of unpleasant side effects."

The best advice we can give you is for you to discuss what allergy medications are best for you and your child to use with conjunction with your ADHD medications.  Always tell the doctor all the medications you currently take including any supplements to avoid any adverse reactions.

If you are interested in learning more about allergies, please do visit Health Central's My Allergy Network  where the experts there can guide you with any  further questions you may have.

Do you or does your child suffer from seasonal allergies in addition to your ADHD?   What medications have you taken to combat your allergy symptoms?   What allergy medications do your doctors say are safe to take with your ADHD meds?   Please share your experiences here.   Your input is of great value to us