Stress doesn't cause allergies, but easing your mind might mean less allergy flare-ups this spring. According to a study published in the April issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergy sufferers with persistent stress experience more allergy flares.
"Stress can cause several negative effects on the body, including causing more symptoms for allergy sufferers," said allergist Amber Patterson, MD, lead study author and ACAAI member. "Our study also found those with more frequent allergy flares also have a greater negative mood, which may be leading to these flares."
Researchers from The Ohio State University analyzed 179 patients for 12 weeks. Thirty-nine percent had more than one allergy flare. This group had higher stress than the group without allergy symptoms. Of this group, 64 percent had more than four flares over two, 14 day periods.
While there were no significant findings between allergy flares and stress on the same day, a number of sufferers reported allergy flares within days of increased daily stress.
"Symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes can cause added stress for allergy sufferers, and may even be the root of stress for some," said Dr. Patterson. "While alleviating stress won't cure allergies, it may help decrease episodes of intense symptoms."
Allergy sufferers can help alleviate stress by:
- Meditating and breathing deeply
- Reducing things that may be responsible for stress and learning how to cope better (i.e. not turning to smoking or caffeine which can do more damage than good)
- Asking for help whether from a social worker, family member or colleague
- Making time for fun and relaxation
- Adopting a healthy lifestyle by eating right, getting enough sleep and taking care of health conditions
"Allergy sufferers can also alleviate stress and allergy symptoms by seeing their board-certified allergist," said allergist James Sublett, MD, ACAAI president-elect. "An allergist will help you develop an action plan with ways to avoid allergy triggers and what treatment will be best for your individual needs."