Allergic Reaction - Fatigue

Feeling tired all the time without knowing why can be very frustrating. You can’t blame your washed out feeling on heavy work demands or others stress. No infection, diabetes or thyroid problem is present. And with no medical reason to explain your fatigue, your doctor is apt to write you off as bored or depressed – probably skipping over the possibility of allergy unless you bring it up.

If allergy is indeed the cause – as it sometimes is – controlling it can put an end to the stagnation you feel. Because allergic fatigue is usually a combination of mental and physical tiredness, one doctor has adopted the term ”brain fag” to describe the dullness and lack of ambition that sometimes result from allergy. Brain fag is unrelieved by rest or sleep, and is frequently worse in the morning.

The physician, Theron Randolph, M.D., of Chicago, describes a young man who had classic allergic fatigue, or brain fag. The man wanted to become a doctor, but he was to tired in college that he couldn’t study, concentrate or complete his work. He was also nervous, tense and frustrated. Even after sleep eight or nine hours, he would wake up tired.

When tested for allergies, it was found that two glasses of milk brought on extreme fatigue in the young man. He had to lie down until he could return home. On another occasion, he ate eggs and got headache shortly afterward. Dr. Randolph removed milk and eggs (which he had been eating daily) from the man’s diet, along with beef and peanuts, which other tests incriminated.

After just two weeks on the diet, the young man felt much less tired. Eventually, he was able to eat the foods to which he’d been allergic, but only on a four day Rotary Diet. The man’s grades improved, and Dr. Randolph reports that today he is a practicing physician.

One symptoms of allergic fatigue is loss of memory. Allergy induced dullness can turn a ”walking encyclopedia” into a computer with a short circuited memory blank. You can’t recall phone numbers you dial every day, you forget names and dates – and you begin to feel that you’re getting senile before your time. Dr. Randolph believes that many people have allergy based fatigue, but that in most cases it goes undiagnosed.

”They're graduated to his condition through a number of previous levels of physical and mental distress,” says Dr. Randolph. ”They usually have thick medical files, filled with long lists of complaints, many of them seemingly mental in origin. In truth, their problems are basically physical in origin (responses to foods or chemicals), but no one realizes this.

To their doctors, their family and sometimes even themselves, they are classic ’hypochondriacs’ and attention seekers” (Allergies: Your Hidden Enemy, Turnstone Press Limited, 1982). Because children are, as a rule, energetic, fatigue in youngsters causes special concern.

”In many experience, allergy is the most common cause of otherwise unexplained fatigue in children,” says William G. Crook, M.D., a pediatric allergist in Jackson, Tennessee. ”I’ve been thrilled by the number of pale, drowsy, tired, listless children whose entire outlook on life has changed when hidden food allergens were removed from the diet,” he adds.

”Although food is the usual cause of allergic fatigue, pollens and other allergens may also cause fatigue,” continued Dr. Crook (Pediatric Clinics of North America, February, 1975). Adults can hope for the same rejuvenation. Once you uncover the cause (or causes) of fatigue and learn how to steer clear of them, you’ll feel like a machine that just had a tune-up (and hopefully perform like one).

Start with your diet. Ironically, many of the foods that people rely on to give them ”go” – sweets, pastries, soda or coffee – contain the very culprits that may be wearing them down: wheat, milk, sugar, chocolate and caffeine. While foods are by far the most common cause of allergy based fatigue, chemicals can squelch your drive too.

Dr. Randolph tells of the teacher who came to him complaining that she was so exhausted she couldn't seem to rouse herself to do anything. Dr. Randolph tested her and treated her for a few food allergies, but she was still tired. He then investigated her home and classroom. The classroom was the source of the trouble.

”The janitor cheerfully showed me the plethora of chemicals used to clean the premises and to spray for insect on a regular basis,” says Dr. Randolph. ”I suggested to (the woman) that this environment was helping to perpetuate her (fatigue) and that she seek another job, which she did.” And that was the end of her fatigue (Allergies: Your Hidden Enemy, Turnstone Press Limited, 1982).

Chances are you won’t have to quit your job to regain your energy. Clearing the Air, described simple but effective measures you can take, at home and at work, to reduce your exposure to airborne allergens, thereby eliminating the possible causes of allergy induced fatigue.

Incidentally, drowsiness and fatigue are the predominant side effect antihistamines, drugs routinely prescribed for hay fever, skin rashes and other common forms of allergy. So if you’re taking antihistamine, there’s a distinct possibility that they're contributing to your exhaustion. To learn how to reduce allergic reaction without sacrificing your energy, read Allergy Drugs and Their Alternatives.

Stamina and self esteem go hand in hand. Once you overcome fatigue, your whole approach to live will improve. And if you happen to have other allergies, such as asthma, hay fever or eczema, overcoming fatigue will give you the energy you need to help manage those problems, too.

Because unexplained fatigue can have multiple causes, please read A Whole Body Approach to Fatigue. See also Anxiety, Depression, Hypoglycemia, and Migraine and Other Headaches.

A Whole Body Approach to Fatigue

While you work on controlling your allergies, pay special attention to nutrition and personal habits. Hard to explain fatigue may have more than one contributing factor, allergy being only one. For total relief of fatigue, consider the following (all which have been shown to contributing fatigue).

  • Lack of regular exercise. Twenty minutes, three times a week, help to keep your battery charged.
  • Overuse of coffee or alcohol. Every ”up” is following by a ”down.”
  • Deficiency of one or more vitamins. The B vitamins folate, pantothenate and B12 are vital to high energy levels.
  • Deficiency of one or more minerals. Potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron boost stamina.
  • Boredom. Lack of interest equals lack of ambition.
  • Stress. Your body uses up a lot of energy to fight money worries, family conflicts and impossible deadlines.
  • A ”perfectionist” attitude. Setting unrealistic standards for your self practically guarantees a sense of underachievement.