Allergies are the 5th leading cause of chronic illness in the US. An estimated 40 million people suffer from allergies in the US each year. An allergy is when your immune system reacts to an allergen, or foreign substance that is eaten, inhaled, touched, or injected into your body. Allergic reactions vary from rashes and hives to breathing trouble and even death.
A common form of allergies is allergic rhinitis. This is the irritation and inflammation of nasal passages caused by breathed in allergens from sources such as trees, pollen, mold, dust, and pets. Sleep problems are common for people with allergic rhinitis due to allergy symptoms like nasal congestion and runny nose which make it difficult to sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, allergic rhinitis is linked to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. Nasal congestion from allergic rhinitis causes the upper airway to narrow, increasing the risk of snoring and OSA which if untreated leads to severe symptoms and chronic health problems such as heart disease, obesity and depression.
Allergic rhinitis is a common health concern for children as well. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, allergies are the most common health issue affecting children in the US with nearly 40% of children receiving an allergy diagnosis. The same nasal congestion symptoms and risk of OSA exist for children. Sleep disorders such as OSA in children are linked to poor performance in school, lower IQ and even brain damage. The National Sleep Foundation encourages parents to pay close attention to sleep symptoms in children with allergic rhinitis and to discuss their child’s sleep with a pediatrician or sleep physician.
There is no cure for allergies or for sleep disorders such as OSA. The good news is that both can be managed with prevention and treatment plans. The first step is to discuss your symptoms with a physician. Need help finding a sleep doctor? Call 1-877-933-9470 and one of our patient educators can help locate a licensed sleep doctor in your area.