Chicago, IL, Oct. 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Allergies make us miserable, but do they also make us fat? The physical fallout of allergic rhinitis and chronic allergy symptoms is far greater than stuffy noses, sneezing, and sleepless nights. Allergies and adult sleep apnea strain our physical wellbeing, both body and mind. And since poor sleep habits and poor eating habits often go hand in hand, those sleep-stealing allergies could cause you to pack on the pounds.
What's more, one study even linked over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medication, such as Zyrtec and Allegra, with weight gain. Clarity Allergy Center's Dr. Brian Rotskoff helps Chicago allergy sufferers treat allergic rhinitis (hay fever) through targeted allergy immunotherapy. Over time, allergy drops and allergy shots can drastically reduce allergy symptoms, improve sleep habits, and eliminate the need for OTC drugs.
"Lack of sleep, whether caused by allergies or sleep apnea, leads to poor diet decision-making throughout the day," explained Dr. Rotskoff. "It's not about late-night refrigerator raids; it's about the long-term impact that allergies have on quality of life."
Can reducing allergy symptoms really reduce waistlines?
Less sleep, more junk food
A University of California, Berkeley sleep study explored why lack of sleep leads to weight gain. First, they found lack of sleep to impair participants' abilities to make complex decisions. Second, sleep deprivation boosted the brain centers that reward primal behaviors like eating. As a result, the sleepy participants were more drawn to junk food and unhealthy snacks.
"Whether excess eating comes from impaired decision making or simply the desire to comfort ourselves during allergy attacks, associated weight gain is real for many patients," explains Dr. Rotskoff.
Antihistamines and weight gain
A 2010 Yale University observational study, published in the journal Obesity, found routine antihistamine use could increase the odds of being overweight by as much as 55 percent.
Some researchers speculate that the release of histamines during an allergic reaction could trigger increases in appetite and lead to more frequent or over-eating. Certain histamines are used medically for this purpose.
Weight control, allergy control
Like many co-morbidities, the cause and effect relationship is fluid. In attempting to understand the association between allergies and weight gain, researchers also consider the impact of obesity on allergy risk.
A study published in the Australasian Medical Journal found that as body mass increased, so did the severity of allergic rhinitis, by as much as six-fold in some cases.
"Maintaining a healthy weight isn't likely to prevent allergies," said Dr. Rotskoff, "But it can improve your respiratory function and may make it easier for you body to manage allergens."
By Brian Rotskoff, MD
October 1, 2013