Itchy eyes and runny nose got you down?
For some, the arrival of spring (belated, though it’s been this year) is met with dread because all those blooming buds and leaves means one thing: Allergy season is here.
The trick is not to let stress get the better of you and your nasal passages. A new study has discovered that along with all the other health benefits it provides, reducing stress can also cut the severity of allergy symptoms.
The study, published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that allergy sufferers who had more stress in their lives also had more allergy flare-ups. Makes sense; simply having allergies themselves can be stressful for a lot of people, considering how the condition can affect your ability to sleep, concentrate and even breathe properly.
The reason for this connection is largely because of histamine, one of the hormones your body releases when you’re stressed. Histamine is also the hormone that causes allergy symptoms like sneezing and nasal congestion. So if you have increased levels of histamine in your body because of stress, and then are exposed to something that causes an allergic reaction, your symptoms can be worse than usual.
(Don’t go into a field of tall grass if you’ve just had a fight with your mother-in-law.)
Allergy medications help many people, but also come with side effects like dry mouth and changes in appetite. That’s why a natural solution like reducing stress becomes more appealing.
For the study, researchers from Ohio State University examined 179 patients for 12 weeks. Over the course of the research, 39 percent of participants had more than one allergy flare, with 64 percent of that group having four or more flares over two 14-day periods.
The researchers found that those who had regular allergy attacks also had higher stress than those who didn’t. Also, several of the study subjects reported they had an allergy flare-up within days of experiencing increased daily stress.
“Stress can cause several negative effects on the body, including causing more symptoms for allergy sufferers,” allergist and study lead Dr. Amber Patterson says. “Our study also found those with more frequent allergy flares also have a greater negative mood, which may be leading to these flares.”
The findings from Patterson’s team build the case on allergies and stress. For example, one study released a few years ago, also from Ohio State University, found that even slight increases in stress and anxiety could make allergy symptoms worse, and that the effects could linger to make the second day of an allergy attack more serious.
The good news is that allergy sufferers can get some relief from those annoying and debilitating allergy symptoms by taking steps to reduce their stress. A daily meditation or deep-breathing practice can be one method. You can simply remove or reduce stress triggers from your life, as much as possible – or learn better methods of anticipating and dealing with the stress triggers that you can’t avoid.
An overall healthy lifestyle that includes good eating and exercise can cut stress and give your body the strength it needs to handle the stress you do experience. And simply making time for the things you enjoy works, too. If the stress in your life is overwhelming or seems unmanageable, consider seeking professional help. Don’t go it alone!
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