Back to school fatigue can be caused by environmental allergies

Back to school. Kids get back into a routine, and mom gets her life back, right?  Wrong. For most moms, back to school is anything but relaxing. However, for some of us, it’s even more tiring.

Is this the time of year when you struggle to drag yourself out of bed, despite hitting the sack as soon as you put the kids down for the night?

Is your focus during the day so scattered that it takes you 3 times longer than usual to accomplish even relatively simple tasks?

And when it’s finally time for bed again, are you shocked to see a face 10 years your senior staring back at you in the mirror, with dark circles and puffiness?

Many tired moms attribute these seasonal symptoms to the stresses associated with “back to school”.  However, if you’re an allergy Mom like me, remember: your kids got those allergy genes somewhere, and you probably had a little something to do with it.

As parents of kids with allergies and asthma, we are often so focused on our children’s health needs that we neglect our own. If you aren’t experiencing the typical runny nose and sneezing traditionally associated with environmental allergies, it’s easy to assume that you’re just not getting enough sleep, or that you need to take more vitamins or drink more coffee.

Consider this.  You may be suffering from the symptoms of poorly controlled allergic rhinitis. Back to school time coincides with the onset of ragweed season in much of the continental U.S. It also overlaps with high mold counts, especially as the foliage starts to accumulate and decay.

Uncontrolled allergic inflammation can make your fall feel lousy.

The congestion and sinonasal inflammation associated with allergies can contribute to poor sleep, mental fogginess, headaches and irritability. In addition, the lack of adequate drainage from the capillaries under your eyes can result in swelling and dark circles (known to the trade as “allergic shiners”, which I think is a great description, because people with them generally feel like they’ve been beat up).

If you have come to associate back to school with a deep desire to crawl into a cave and hibernate until after the classroom Halloween party (which just so happens to coincide with the first major frost), don’t settle for suffering. Talk to your primary care physician or family allergist to see if there are measures you can take now to regain your energy, focus and well-being.

Sakina Shikari Bajowala is an allergy and immunology physician who blogs at Achoo!- Adventures of an Allergist Mommy.



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