Springtime means many things–baby birds, blossoms, and better weather, for starters. It also means allergies for more than 50 million people in the United States alone, according to this article on the website for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Allergies are no fun, often causing poor sleep in addition to itchy eyes and constant sneezing. For those suffering from sleep apnea, allergies can be especially detrimental.

While allergies do not appear to cause sleep apnea, there is definitely a strong connection between the two. “As a study published in the American Review of Respiratory Disease stated, ‘in patients with allergic rhinitis, obstructive sleep apneas are longer and more frequent’ than in patients without those allergic conditions.” (You can read the entire article here.) Think about it–nasal allergies are often responsible for temporary blockage of our airways, worsening a problem for those with sleep apnea. Allergies can also cause tonsils to swell, further complicating the matter. If you’re already struggling with regular apnea episodes, allergies can extend and exacerbate them even more.

If allergies are making your sleep apnea worse, your eyes and nose won’t be the only things that suffer. Constant sleep deprivation, or reduction in sleep quality, can have a detrimental effect on your physical and mental health. The body requires a certain amount of quality sleep every night to function properly. Not meeting that quota can have serious, even fatal consequences. In the documentary, Sleepless in America, Mark Rosekind of the National Transportation Safety Board says, “Every aspect of who you are as a human, every capability is degraded, impaired, when you lose sleep…Your decision-making, reaction time, situational awareness, memory, communication…go down by 20 to 50 percent.” In addition, chronic sleep deprivation can seriously increase your risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

Don’t Mess Around With Sleep Deprivation

If you’re struggling from chronic sleep deprivation, whether caused by seasonal allergies, sleep apnea, or a combination of the two, don’t ignore it! Untreated sleep apnea can take as many as twelve years off of your life expectancy. There are many options for testing and treatment, so speak to a health care professional as soon as possible. Click here to find a provider near you!