Help me cure my allergy-related fatigue
February 9, 2007 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have experience with allergies causing fatigue?

I have post-exertional fatigue. I shovel snow or something for an hour and I'm wiped out for the next 3 hours. I'm in good enough shape that this shouldn't be happening. This has happened before, and I pinpointed it to a mold allergy. I had all kinds of bloodwork done and everything was normal and I realized that black stuff on the walls in our bathroom wasn't dirt like everything else, it was mold. I got rid of it, and I got better. Now living with my parents in a non-scuzzy place and I'm getting the same thing but there's no mold to be seen. There are other things I'm allergic to such as a cat and dust. I am allergic to everything such as grass trees mold dust pets etc. and a lot of different foods. I have had immunotherapy before and it worked while I was getting the shots but all of the allergies came back when I stopped. I am looking at getting the shots again but I can't really afford to pay for them unless I know that I am going to be putting the money to good use. My concern is that this fatigue symptom appears to be a new response to allergies. If I am going to make the commitment to the shots and fork over the cash I want to make sure I've got all the angles covered so I thought I would see what other people's experiences with this is. Thanks!
posted by dino terror to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My family (who seem to have unusally severe allergies) call the form with fatigue "hay fever". Have you gotten a scratch test yet? A scratch test may identify allergy causes that you didn't even know existed.

My father is currently on an immunotherapy course. From what I've read, it's not something you're ever supposed to stop.
posted by muddgirl at 3:20 PM on February 9, 2007

Allergies can make you feel extreme fatigue. I think its part of the histamine response. For things that I am moderately allergic to (as opposed to deathly allergic too) exposure makes me almost literally fall asleep on my feet. These are usually ingestibles like sulfites in wine, chocolate, etc.
posted by stormygrey at 3:22 PM on February 9, 2007

I get red in the face. Not just a blush-color, but a deep red that makes me look almost sunburnt. My eyes get puffy and red, and my nose starts running to beat the band. About this time I'm ready to collapse.

I don't know if it's general fatigue, or just a desire to get closer to the idea of suicide and just ending it all, but there's definitely a fatigue connection with my allergies.

Thank god for Claritin-D and Flonase.
posted by thanotopsis at 3:30 PM on February 9, 2007

What my understanding was that you would keep taking the shots until you became 'immune'. But my nurse said that I should go off the shots (after like 8 years of getting them) to see whether I still needed them. But when I went to get re-tested a few years later the nurse said that you have to get the scratch test to see if you're still allergic. If you stop the shots you're back at square one. So did I waste 8 years of investment in allergy shots?
posted by dino terror at 3:37 PM on February 9, 2007

I spent a summer being tired every day. Then I went on Claritin and I suddenly felt awake again. Allergies certainly can cause fatigue. Of course so can antihistamines....
posted by pombe at 3:41 PM on February 9, 2007

If you got relief from the shots then no, it wasn't a waste. I get shots and don't intend to ever stop. From my experience the benefits do wear off. Plus allergies can change over time even without shots so occasional testing is warranted.

Not a doctor, blah blah blah.
posted by chairface at 3:43 PM on February 9, 2007

Seems like more of an almost chicken-and-egg issue to me ... Does an allergy cause fatigue or vice versa? Or does one trigger the other? In any case, I can attest that allergic reactions and fatigue go hand in hand, from hay fever on up the spectrum to asthma.
posted by blucevalo at 4:01 PM on February 9, 2007

Yes, fairly common. Less commonly known perhaps is that many people experience side-effect emotions from allergies rather than overt physical effects like rashes and whatnot. A wife of a friend was depressed all the time, went to the doctor for it and discovered a wheat allergy -- upon removing wheat from the diet, she was bright and chipper as she had known to be before. I've had a peanut allergy that affects my inhibitions -- if I have very many or even a little bit of peanut butter in something, I feel plainly at liberty to confess/remark/admit stuff I would have normally kept quiet. I was quite the hyperactive rascal in elementary school until they discovered the peanut allergy. No more PB&J sandwiches in the lunch resulted in an immediate change in attitude and I kept quiet as I should have done. I have also noticed that corn tends to generate a dreary/unsatisfied emotion in me. If I ever get depressed about my job, I'll suddenly remember the corn thing and think, "oh yeah, I had some popcorn earlier" and a few hours later *ahem* those irrational duldrums are gone.

You may also check into whether you may have "essential tremors" which is a fatigue of sorts (in the form of nervous-like shaking) that is caused, among other things, by doing heavy muscle-requiring work like clipping hedges (as opposed to typing)..
posted by Quarter Pincher at 4:36 PM on February 9, 2007

I have a chronic case of hives that is currently being very well controlled by a staggering number of antihistimines. It has not been determined that my hives are the result of an allergy. The specialist I'm working with at Johns Hopkins is of the opinion that some chronic cases of hives are in fact gene based, and not a response to environmental stimuli. I told you all that to tell you this: it is my own experience that the person upthread who mentioned fatigue as part of a histimine reaction is dead on. When I was suffering with my hives and welty all over, I was the most exhausted, energy-sapped thing that ever tried to stay upright. Now that I take four (yes four) different antihistimines at a time (at bedtime) along with Doxepin (which helps with itch), I need at least 10 hours of sleep a night, but I'm welt-free and awake during the day.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:39 PM on February 9, 2007

I've not got anything new to add to all of the above, just an emphatic oh absolutely, and what stormygrey said. When my previously undiagnosed environmental and food allergies decided to make themselves known, I slept through an entire summer (from there it was e.r. visits, but that's another story).

Even having a daily antihistime (ditto the "thank god for *" in my case zyrtec and singulair and flonase) an early warning sign for me of a mild to moderate reaction is overwhelming fatigue. As bluecevalo noted, having a reaction is also exhausting.

On the antihistimine, even though I've been on it for years now, I need more sleep than I ever have before.

Allergies are tiring.
posted by faineant at 7:50 PM on February 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

mold can actually cause infections. i'd go to a doctor and get checked out before you just sign up for more shots. you should always investigate a new symptom, especially one that gets your attention enough that you feel you have to start asking other people about it. that kind of tiredness is a symptom of something, maybe not allergies. it could be a virus or an infection, or something more sinister.

don't worry about the money right now. really, don't. if it's just allergies, great. if it's something more, then you should deal with it asap.

alternatively, you might just have sleep apnea and aren't getting enough rest at night. but again, the doctor will be able to tell you.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:12 PM on February 9, 2007

Yes. I have a lifetime of experience with allergy related fatigue. It is common, and can be debilitating.

Some thoughts... You can develop new allergies as you age. You can also develop new symptoms as you age, or experience different symptoms from different allergens. It can be helpful to be tested for allergies every five years or so, to keep track of these changes.

In understanding your fatigue, remember that allergens are causing your body to react in roughly the same way it would if you were ill with a virus or bacteria. When you are exposed to influenza, your immune system goes into overdrive, and that's what makes you feel ill. An immune system in chronic overdrive (as in the case of allergies) will understandably make you feel pretty crappy all the time.
posted by shifafa at 10:14 AM on February 10, 2007

Dino, It would be quite odd to experience true fatigue/weakness after exertion as a result of allergies, despite what you have read here. There's just simply no causal relationship in play, if, in fact, you are finding that your main complaint is post-exertional enervation.

A few years back, there was a great essay in the NYTimes magazine about a garbage hauler - fit, stout, young guy - who, over a month or two, started getting masively fatigued after exercise. The cause was a B12 deficiency, which can be fairly common, despite adequate animal protein intake, due to the delicate way in which B12 is absorbed by the body.

You need to return to your physician and first make sure this is not a sign of a deeper problem. Your post does not mention a number of possible other germane symptoms - shortness of breath, tremor, etc. - and you need to check into this further before chalking it up to allergies. Unfortunately, 'allergies' are used too often to describe all kinds of somatic complaints that are difficult to trace to an organic source.
posted by docpops at 7:08 PM on February 10, 2007

I have had experience with allergies making me go bonkers. Spring in Syracuse, New York while at college...I had never had allergies before but my allergies when everything was blooming that April made me slow, lethargic and tired.

I took Allegra and Zyrtec as well as nasal sprays (Rhinocort) and they helped immensely.

Try over the counter stuff first like Claritin. If they don't work go see an allergist. One appointment and I think it's as easy now as taking a little blood and they can diagnose what you're allergic to and the extremity. For instance my only allergies are dust mites and mild to cats, although I get none from cats.
posted by PetiePal at 11:06 AM on February 12, 2007

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