Medications can alleviate allergy symptoms, but beware of daytime drowsiness
Because fatigue is a symptom and not a medical condition itself, Dr. Mingioni said, there is no specific treatment for it. So to address fatigue, you “pretty much always have to address the underlying problem.”
If sinus pressure from congestion is making you tired or causing other symptoms like a headache, you can treat it with over-the-counter allergy medications such as oral antihistamines, Dr. Yu said. But they do come with some pros and cons.
Oral allergy medications are effective at alleviating symptoms like congestion, itchiness and sneezing, but a significant downside is that many cause drowsiness, Dr. Tirumalasetty said. First-generation oral antihistamines, like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or Atarax (hydroxyzine), are more likely than second-generation antihistamines, like Claritin (loratadine) or Zyrtec (cetirizine), to cause drowsiness, Dr. Yu said.
And even the ones that are labeled “nondrowsy” can still cause some sleepiness for some people, Dr. Tirumalasetty said, so it may take some trial and error to find the allergy medication that works for you.
That being said, Dr. Yu added, “it’s definitely much more beneficial to treat your allergies than to try to avoid the medications because of fear of sedation.” — at least in her own experience treating patients. And if your symptoms are causing fatigue by keeping you up at night, the drowsiness from the medications might work in your favor.
Still, there are alternatives to oral medications that can help alleviate allergy symptoms, Dr. Yu said, including saline nasal sprays or rinses and antihistamine or saline eye drops.
Track your triggers
Identifying the patterns in your symptoms can help you prepare for allergy season, Dr. Yu said. For example, if you know that fatigue and other allergy symptoms typically occur during the spring, you can start gathering your medications a few weeks or months ahead.