Exclusive Content

Is It MS, Allergies, or Both?

By Matt Cavallo

Spring has sprung and so have all our allergies. Itchy, puffy eyes and a raw, scratchy throats are common symptoms of allergy season. However, allergies can also cause MS-like symptoms including fatigue and brain fog. This season my fatigue is at an all-time high and I am also having trouble concentrating and completing tasks because of brain fog. I am having a hard time figuring out whether these symptoms are because of my MS, allergies, or both?

MS and allergies share a lot of similarities. They both can cause inflammation, fatigue, and brain fog. Just like MS, allergies are considered a chronic disease, meaning that the condition lasts for more than one year, require ongoing medical treatment and supervision, and can limit the activities of daily living. So during allergy season, it is not uncommon that a person living with MS and allergies may be feeling a little extra fatigued. That being said, there is no definitive link between MS and allergies.

I have done a lot of research on the topic of MS and allergies. There have been studies that have concluded that there is no link between MS and allergies, but those studies have also concluded that more research is needed. Research also shows that allergies may trigger autoimmune disorders. Also, the body’s response to allergies can cause inflammation. 

There is also research that says histamine causes inflammation. Histamine is a compound released by cells as a response to injury, illness, and allergies. Histamine causes many of the body’s responses to allergies, including sneezing and runny nose. Histamines work to eliminate the allergen from your body which also ends up causing inflammation. 

Histamine intolerance means your body has overproduced histamines to eliminate the allergen. Signs of histamine intolerance include headaches, sinus problems, hives, nausea, vomiting, digestive issues, irregular menstrual cycle for women, and fatigue. For those who have severe histamine intolerance, antihistamine medication is available.

For allergy suffers, whether it is the allergy or the medication, the result can be increased fatigue. Many people who suffer from allergies also have trouble sleeping as a result, which also leads to increased fatigue. This year especially, it seems like my fatigue levels are so much higher than in recent years. When I am feeling extra fatigued during allergy season, or if I am having trouble concentrating and getting my work done, it is a fair question to ask if the symptoms I am experiencing are related to MS, allergies, or a combination of both?

If you are like me, and are suffering from horrible allergies and you think it may be affecting you MS, here are some suggestions that can help.
  • Get an allergy test. A scratch test for allergies will show allergies to items such as dust, pollen, trees, and pet dander. A blood test can pinpoint food allergies.
  • Schedule an appointment with an allergist. According to aaaai.org, an immunologist (commonly referred to as an allergist) is a physician specially trained to diagnose, treat, and manage allergies, asthma and immunologic disorders including primary immunodeficiency disorders. Allergists can help identify the cause of the allergy and help treat it. If you think your fatigue may be allergy-related, talk to an allergist about it. Make sure to mention you have MS as well.
  • Talk to your neurologist. If your fatigue or other MS symptoms seem to spike during allergy season, this is something that you will want to discuss with your neurologist. Your neurologist may order an MRI or other testing to determine if your symptoms are MS-related.

If you have MS and allergies, talking to your medical team about how you feel is an important first step to feeling better. Your medical team can help determine the root cause of the problem and develop a treatment plan so you don’t have to worry whether it is MS, allergies, or both.