Fatigue, drowsiness, reduced focus and alertness—all side effects of allergies—contribute to a decline in learning and productivity, no matter how well you arm yourself with antihistamines and nasal spray. The nasal congestion from allergies also leads to poor sleep quality at night, resulting in cognitive impairment the next day.
And as if tiredness and difficult respiration were not hard enough to deal with, the very medications you take to relieve your symptoms can make things worse. One of the effects of oral histamines is increased drowsiness—a phenomenon known as “decreased mentation”, a fancy term for reduced mental activity. In fact, one study found that the use of sedating antihistamines could result in a 25 percent reduction in productivity for two years a year.
But if medication is out of the question, what is a bogged-down, particularly sneezy individual to do? The first step is to figure out exactly what is triggering an allergic reaction in you. If you know you have a pollen allergy, i.e. the sneezes start coming around springtime, or a dust allergy, it's fairly easy to handle. Doctors recommend people with pollen allergy to change clothes and take a shower if they have been outdoors, and keep windows at home and in the car shut tight. If you have a dust allergy, get covers for your pillows and mattresses. If you're unsure, make an appointment with an allergist or immunologist to get down to the bottom of it. A number of food items can aggravate allergies and eliminating even one thing from your diet could do the trick. Doctors can also make recommendations for a more permanent fix, e.g. immunotherapy for long-term relief if your condition requires it.