What problems can develop if I don't treat my allergies?

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Dr. Bruce L. Pfuetze, MD
Allergist & Immunologist

When allergies are not treated there may be no immediate or long terms effect, but this does occur in some patients. It is best to evaluate and determine what your allergies are and learn and how to avoid them and appropriately treat them. When allergies go untreated it can lead to severe asthma, severe sinus problems, severe headache and gastrointestinal problems that can rarely be fatal.

The most likely consequence of untreated allergies is that you will feel symptoms such as continual congestion and sinus drainage. Fatigue is also a major symptom of allergies. Most patients prefer allergy treatment simply so they will have fewer of these symptoms.

Allergies can be much different with different people. For example, some patients may also have problems with snoring or even sleep apnea at night, which can cause a decrease in your breathing while you sleep. Patients that are prone to asthma may have more exacerbations of asthma symptoms if their allergies are not treated. 

Dr. Alan Young, MD
Family Practitioner

If allergies aren't treated, it can affect your quality of life. People may avoid situations that trigger allergies, and a lot of times that's a detriment to well-being. If somebody doesn't want to go outside or participate in activities because they don't want to be exposed to allergens, that can impact quality of life.

Untreated allergies can also set you up for sinus and ear infections since mucus is a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Allergies—if not well managed—can open the door to an entire host of other health problems, from sleep issues to breathing problems. Here are the details on a few examples.

  • Chronic sleep troubles: Sinus congestion, sneezing and nasal itching and twitching can disrupt sleep. Research suggests that sleep problems are very common in people with allergies. If your allergies cause sleep troubles and you aren't doing anything about it, you could even end up with a sleep disorder like insomnia—because intermittent sleep troubles can turn into chronic, learned insomnia over time. Talk to your doctor about allergy treatment options that can help you sleep better.
  • Poor focus: It's hard to concentrate when you're constantly blowing your nose and feeling unwell. Fatigue from poor sleep can make your focus even worse. If you have daytime fatigue, memory problems and difficulty concentrating and staying productive, talk to your doctor about better allergy control. If you're still suffering from symptoms after 2 weeks, it may be time to discuss a new treatment approach.
  • Mood disorders: Ongoing symptoms and a lack of sleep may also trigger irritability and mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression—all of which can affect your day-to-day functioning, your social life, your relationships and your overall health in a negative way. So if you want to feel good consistently, it's best to stay on track with your treatment.
  • Infections and inflammation: Uncontrolled allergy symptoms could open the door to more serious inflammatory problems down the road, such as eczema, sinusitis or even asthma. Untreated symptoms can also lead to ear infections and sinus headaches. If you have chronic breathing problems that aren't relieved by your current allergy treatments, see your doctor.

Continue Learning about Allergies

Allergies

Allergies

About one out of five Americans suffers from allergies. An allergy is an exaggerated response from the immune system to a substance such as dust, pollen, pet dander or mold. Other common triggers include foods such as peanuts and ...

milk; insect bites; and certain ingredients in cosmetics and jewelry. Allergies can cause anything from rashes and hives to itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, and wheezing.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.