Doctors warn severe allergies may take toll on your health

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on January 5, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

We usually don't think of winter as allergy season.  But if you're like millions of people with indoor allergies, the next few months could find you sneezing, sniffling, and exhausted.  But that's not all.  A new study shows those allergens also affect the brain.

"I have congestion, runny nose, my fatigue is at high levels.  I have trouble focusing and sometimes even a little blurry vision," said allergy sufferer Aaron Shiffrin. 
 
This time of year the culprits can be dust, mites, mold and pet dander
 
"I've tried to work through it and not make it a factor, but it's debilitating.  If you've ever been sick before, you know what it's like when you have the flu.  It's very similar," said Shiffrin. 
 
"It's a disaster when patients are afflicted with these types of allergies.  These allergies are affecting their energy.  They can not wake up in the morning.  It's affecting their moods, their irritability.  It affects not only work, but family life can be affected," said Dr. Talal Nsouli. 
 
Dr. Nsouli looked at 98 patients suffering from seasonal and environmental allergies.  82 percent experienced extreme fatigue and lethargy.   After eight weeks of treatment, 72 percent felt more awake and had increased energy levels. 
 
"These were healthy individuals.  These were individuals who had a complete check up with a primary care physician.  They don't have any other condition," said Dr. Nsouli. 
 
But untreated allergies had left them feeling  irritable and depressed, some even experienced symptoms similar to attention deficit disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome. 
 
"One of the common denominators of these patients is that they do have allergies and we treat the allergies and they get better," said Dr. Nsouli. 
 
After getting allergy shots,  Shiffrin is breathing easier and says he's finally able to enjoy life. 
 
"The energy levels have improved.  I no longer feel like I'm sick.  I don't worry about it anymore.  I don't limit myself," said Shiffrin. 
 
Doctors say this study  shows why it's so important to address allergy symptoms no matter what the time of year.  Once treatment starts, most people begin to feel better. 
 

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