For most of us in the northern hemisphere the warmth from summer sunshine feels like a long overdue treat. But the downside of the coming months is the looming prospect of itchy eyes, sore throats, sneezing, and blocked or runny noses.
Last year an estimated 24 million Americans were diagnosed with hay fever. Typically, allergy sufferers stoically get out the tissues or they look for some kind of over-the-counter (OTC) relief, or both. While mild symptoms can be relieved by OTC medications, they can dull concentration and even disrupt sleep patterns.
As much as allergies can become a source of stress, it seems that stress can increase allergy flare-ups. In the April edition of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, researchers reported that people most prone to negative moods and stress symptoms experienced a higher number of allergy flare-ups.
The research team from Ohio State University analyzed the relationship between stress and allergy flare-ups by following 179 patients over a 12-week period. During this time 39 percent had more than one allergy flare-up. The scientists discovered that those with the highest stress levels were more likely to experience this. Within the high-stress group, 64 percent had more than four flare-ups over two 14-day periods.
Stress doesn’t cause allergies but it does have a negative effect on the immune system. So allergy sufferers may benefit from anything that reduces their stress.
There are many stress-reduction techniques from which to choose, including relaxation, meditation, mindfulness and yoga. Attention should also be paid to following a balanced diet and cutting down caffeine, alcohol and smoking. Regular sleep patterns and even asking for help when things get a bit too much will all help to reduce the overall effects of stress.
Published On: April 17, 2014