Sleep apnea and seasonal allergies may seem to have nothing in common. The fact is is both allergies and sleep apnea are things you can be dealing with that can be hard to diagnose, and if you’re dealing with either one, it's important to be aware of the other.
When seasonal allergies are new to you, they may seem like a cold that won't go away. Once you know you have allergies they are generally easily treatable, but if you layer in an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea, or if you know you have mild sleep apnea, Dr. Christina Cairns says understanding how the two can work together against you is important. "Allergies often increase swelling in your nasal lining, and if you also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, and you do have allergies, that will exacerbate your symptoms. Treating the allergies will make the therapy you use for you sleep apnea (if you’rer using one) more successful."
If you're not getting treatment because your apnea is undiagnosed, then layering in allergy symptoms can really make you wonder why you’re feeling so bad, Dr. Cairns says. "What is considered mild sleep apnea, with a flair up of allergies - it can be at any different time of year, summer winter spring fall, depends on what you’re allergic to - it can definitely exacerbate the symptoms of sleep apnea."
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea? The biggest is a night time sound that drives those not sleeping crazy, says Dr. Cairns. "You may be tested for obstructive sleep apnea because you snore heavily. and you could come back as negative, but usually it's a red flag because obstructive sleep apnea is a progressive disease where you won't remain just a person who snores. Without treatment, you definitely end up being apnic at some point."
Other symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, constantly feeling tired, waking up frequently through the night for no apparent reason, a lack of dreaming, as well as having to go to the bathroom frequently through the night. High blood pressure and diabetes could also be indicators of obstructive sleep apnea.
If any of these symptoms ring true, it's a good idea to discuss it with your doctor to figure out what may be going on. If you know you deal with sleep apnea, whether it’s being treated or not, pay close attention to any allergy symptoms, and those can pop up any time of year depending what you are allergic to.