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Study shows allergies linked to fatigue

By Doreen Gentzler, NBC News | Posted - Dec. 16, 2011 at 11:38 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- For 40-year-old Aaron Shiffrin and 21- year-old Ghlib Alsharif, their allergies are more than a sniffle. Both men say they can be crippling at times. Both have trouble focusing, and Shiffrin has problems with fatigue. Though the peak of allergy season isn't winter, many may allergy symptoms with a seasonal cold.

"It's a disaster when patients are afflicted with these types of allergies," said Allergy Specialist Dr. Talal Nsouli. "These allergies are affecting their energy. They cannot wake up in the morning. It's affecting their moods, their irritability. It affects not only work, but family life can be affected."

Now a new study is showing that allergies affect more than the respiratory system. It could actually be affecting the brain.

Allergist Nsouli led the study which looked at 98 patients suffering from seasonal and environmental allergies. Of those patients, 82 percent of them say they experienced extreme fatigue and lethargy. After eight weeks of allergy treatment, 72 percent felt more awake and had increased energy levels.

"These were healthy individuals. These were individuals who had a complete check-up with a primary care physician. They don't have any other condition."

According to Nsouli, this is more evidence that when allergens enter the body, chemicals like histamines can actually slow down brain function. So people will not only feel fatigue, they can feel irritable, depressed, and even have symptoms similar to attention deficit disorder. Other studies have even linked allergies to chronic fatigue syndrome.

"One of the common denominators of these patients is that they do have allergies and we treat the allergies and they get better," Nsoulis said.

Shiffrin says he had been getting allergy shots for years. It's helped him not only breathe easier, but he feels like he's finally able to enjoy life.

"The energy levels have improved. I no longer feel like I'm sick," Shiffrin said. "I don't worry about it anymore. I don't limit myself."

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Doreen Gentzler
    NBC News

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