Insomnia Caused by Allergic Rhinitis
Insomnia and allergic rhinitis (hay fever) are undoubtedly linked. Various studies have proved the same. Insomnia is a common problem in people suffering from hay fever. In the United States, more than half the population have one or more allergies. Allergies account for a national expenditure of $7 billion dollars.
In this article, we are going to explore the connection between sleeplessness and hay fever.
What is Allergic Rhinitis?
Hay Fever is predominantly a seasonal allergy caused by the inflammation of airways. It is also referred to as pollenosis as it is caused by pollen from trees, weeds and grasses. It could also be caused by animal dander and dust mites. Chemicals, smoke, air pollutants, detergents etc can also cause it. It is characterized by symptoms like sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, swelling and inflammation of the nasal passages. The mucus production is also increased. Nasal congestion can cause breathing difficulties. People with acute hypersensitivities can also experience symptoms on skin like hives and rash. It affects around 20 to 50 percent of the population.
What causes Hay Fever?
Pollen or other allergens can enter the nasal passages and get the process started. The body in hypersensitive individuals can react to the triggers in the environment like pollen, chemicals, dust, pet dander etc. The body starts treating these triggers as harmful agents and produces antibodies, namely Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies bind with the mast cells in the skin, gut and pharynx and releases the chemical histamine abnormally. Histamine is responsible for the hay fever like symptoms experienced.
Symptoms of Hay Fever related Insomnia
- Sleep Apnea
- Increased nasal congestion and difficulty breathing while lying down
- Waking up during night
- Feeling fatigued
- Feeling sleepy during daytime
- Taking more time to fall sleep
- Sleep Deprivation as in getting only 2-3 hours of sleep
- Persistent headaches
Study proving connection between Allergic Rhinitis and Insomnia
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that patients affected by hay fever and other allergies suffered more from sleeplessness than those without it. It could affect the quality of life and it is an established fact that it causes the aforementioned symptoms.
Damien Leger, M.D., of Assistance Publique Hopitauxde Paris conducted a research to investigate the said connection in 591 patients. A group of 502 individuals without the condition were also evaluated. Both the groups reported having sleeping disorders. For the individuals with hay fever, researchers recorded the details of their allergies like symptoms, types of allergies, duration of allergies, treatments used etc.
The group having hay fever reported more sleep related problems. Of the 591 patients having allergies related sleeplessness, 41.6% reported difficulty falling asleep whereas only 18.3% without allergies did so. Similarly, 63.2% of the allergic individuals felt they did not get enough sleep whereas only 25.4% without allergies reported the same symptom. 35.8% reported insomnia wheras 16% of non allergic individuals did so.
The results showed an increase in the number of individuals with hay fever suffering from sleep related disorders. The quality of life was massively affected by sleeplessness, daytime fatigue, difficulty remembering things, mood disorders, low sex drive, increased use of alcohol and sedatives as compared to the other group without the allergies.
When the allergies were moderate to intense the effects became more pronounced. The allergies worsened the sleeping disorders and severely affected the quality of life in this case.
The study concluded that it would be prudent for the primary care physicians or the allergist to question patients with hay fever about their sleeping patterns. Any early detection of abnormal sleeping trends could mean an early detection of allergy related insomnia. With the high incidences of allergic nasal congestions, hay fever and sleeplessness it becomes imperative to treat these conditions early to prevent further accidents due to confusion and lowered alertness resulting from a sleep deprieved condition.