Feeling like your head is full of fuzz is not high on my list of desirable experiences, and I’m betting it’s not at the top of yours, either!

Dragging your way out of bed and through your day during allergy season can seem like a momentous effort, and it’s even worse when you can’t remember why, exactly, you got out of bed in the first place. Millions of people suffer from allergies in the US all year round, but not all of them know what allergies can do to your brain.

The brain drain

Allergies have more of an effect on your brain than you may think. When your body encounters an allergen, it reacts in a series of steps that causes many different symptoms, including inflammation. If, for example, your middle ear can’t drain properly because of the swelling, you could end up dizzy or with brain fog. Allergies can cause a lack of proper sleep, which takes its toll on your brain, too.

Research has also shown that allergies can really impair your cognitive function. A study published in the Journal of The British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that people who had seasonal allergies experienced problems in cognitive function areas such as short- and long-term memory, attention span and the speed at which their brain processed information (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=19226277).

Another study, reported in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, discovered that a reaction to ragweed pollen makes some people experience mood changes and become very tired, causing the researchers to theorize that allergic reactions may be behind biochemical changes that have a direct impact on the nervous system (https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2002/07000/Effects_of_Seasonal_Allergic_Rhinitis_on_Fatigue.19.aspx).

Now that you know that your slower mind during allergy season isn’t just “all in your head,” it’s time to learn what you can do to reduce the symptoms. The first step you can take is to reduce your exposure to what you’re allergic to. Avoid synthetic clothing as static electricity can make pollen stick to you. Use gloves and a mask when you garden to reduce pollen exposure, and vacuum your house regularly with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. A HEPA filter air purifier can help weed out pollen in your home, too.

Last but certainly not least is the neti pot. Rinsing your sinuses out with this salt water delivery system can help ease your nasal passages and rinse away lingering pollen you’ve breathed in during the day!

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