Home > Hayfever Issues > How Stress Worsens Hay Fever

How Stress Worsens Hay Fever

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 13 Mar 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
How Stress Worsens Hay Fever

As if hay fever wasn't stressful enough as it is, a new study has found that other kinds of stress in your life could worsen hay fever. In fact, even small amounts of anxiety can intensify your body's reaction to allergens. Worse still is that this effect can persist, which means that a person who feels stressed today could suffer from a heightened allergic reaction tomorrow.

Finding a Link to Stress and Anxiety

In this recent study, researchers looked at men and women with hay fever and seasonal allergies. The participants undertook a number of psychological types of surveys to assess what kinds of stress, anxiety and similar feelings they experienced. The participants were given a low-stress control condition, before receiving a skin prick test to investigate their allergic response. After, they were told to read a specified magazine and then tape themselves reading it aloud.

The participants who received the low-stress condition had a harder time. They had to give ten-minute speeches – all videotaped – and then answer some math questions to solve without a paper and pen. They also had to view the video of their performance. The entire experiment was considered a laboratory stress experience for the participants.

Hay Fever Study Results

The researchers conducting the experiment assessed the raised 'wheals' on the arms of participants before and after they experienced the stress. They also measured them the next day. On a person who was moderately anxious from the experiment, the wheals were seventy-five percent bigger after the experiment compared to the wheals prior to being stressed.

In people who were very anxious though, the wheals were twice as large after being stressed in comparison with the wheals prior to feeling stressed. Not only that, but also these people had a higher likelihood of reacting more intensely to the skin prick test a day later.

The Reaction a Day Later

This reaction a day later is actually quite important to understand because it represents the body's repeated and increasing response to an allergen. It could also mean that a hay fever sufferer will respond intensely to other kinds of allergens that previously hadn't caused an allergic reaction. Perhaps particularly worrying is that these 'late-phase' reactions are more challenging to treat and don't always respond to the usual allergy and hay fever treatments.

Learning from Research

The researchers who conducted this study hope that doctors and other relevant health professionals learn from the study and are aware of the impact stress can have on hay fever and other allergies. Also, the late-phase reactions are important to understand and learn more about because they can be very intense and in some cases, life-threatening.

It means that when a patient becomes very stressed, they could be setting themselves up for increased allergic responses the next day. In particular, these allergic responses might not respond well to the usual medications such as antihistamines that are used to treat hay fever and other allergies. For those who suffer from hay fever, you can focus more on managing stress now, which may not only make you feel better overall but could now help you manage your hay fever.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • John
    Re: Tree Pollen
    I get itchy and swollen eyelids every time I open a window facing a 20ft Hawthorne hedge. Extremely bad between June and September. Trouble is that…
    3 August 2019
  • Freddie
    Re: Tree Pollen
    I’ve suffered from stuffy nose and dreadful aches during the summer months, for years. After walking, being in the countryside, even in late summer,…
    7 July 2019
  • Mr.Max
    Re: Tree Pollen
    I use natural nasal barriers and they have worked extremely well but I still feel I could do with another treatment. Is there anything you could recommend?
    10 June 2019
  • Cazhug
    Re: Tree Pollen
    I suffer from silent migraines and have only just made a possible connection to birch tree pollen. I’m worst from end Mar to end May with weekly…
    5 June 2019
  • sherryerhard
    Re: Hay Fever And Your Lungs
    I have had asthma my whole life but about 5 years ago my asthma got so bad and I was diagnosed with emphysema/COPD which was most…
    1 June 2019
  • Gayegaye
    Re: Tree Pollen
    I find the May makes me extremely Ill. Its flowers are so pungent they stink. It's a beautiful tree especially when it's in full blossom but there's no…
    23 May 2019
  • derek rooney
    Re: Hay Fever And Your Lungs
    I had COPD for 9 years. My first symptoms were dry cough, chest tightness and shortness of breath. My first chest x-ray only showed…
    14 May 2019
  • Janet Linnekin
    Re: Hay Fever And Your Lungs
    I was introduced to RICH HERBS FOUNDATION (ww w. richherbsfoundation. c om) and their successful COPD Herbal Formula protocol 10 months…
    30 April 2019
  • rathers
    Re: Tree Pollen
    I get extremely itchy eyes from mid January to April. No other symptoms . This has been going on for years and no one seems able to help
    14 February 2019
  • HayfeverExpert
    Re: Tree Pollen
    AngieB - Your Question:I’ve only just made the link between my symptoms and a possible pollen allergy. I’ve been having itchy skin since March with int
    3 July 2018