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
  • Keith
    Re: Steroid Injections
    kenalog injection are not available on the NHS I'm going private for this as I can't cope with my eyes watering constantly anymore.
    4 August 2017
  • HayfeverExpert
    Re: Tree Pollen
    Chris - Your Question:My allergy is at its worst from early July sometimes until mid September. I am convinced it is an allergy to trees. My street is
    4 August 2017
  • Chris
    Re: Tree Pollen
    My allergy is at its worst from early July sometimes until mid September. I am convinced it is an allergy to trees. My street is lined with numerous…
    1 August 2017
  • TimPH
    Re: Steroid Injections
    Hi there This season I have really bad Hayfever ... I'm miserable and my eyes are in a terrrible state. I had Kenalog injections a few years…
    9 July 2017
  • charliexo
    Re: Common Symptoms Of Hay Fever
    I have a tickly throat that makes me feel sort of gaggy at the back of my throat. I also have a blocked nose and dry itchy eyes. I…
    21 June 2017
  • Joonhen
    Re: Tree Pollen
    I have read somewhere that tree pollen is more active in the mornings up to 10 ..11am is this true as my symptoms do improve as day goes on
    8 April 2017
  • jono
    Re: Tree Pollen
    From the End of February for approx 8 weeks Tree Pollen is unpleasant and causes Asthma, Blocked nose and constant watering & itchy eyes. For myself…
    12 March 2017
  • HayfeverExpert
    Re: Rebound Nasal Congestion
    Anna - Your Question:Been addicted to sudafed blocked nose spray for about 3 months. I have threw my bottle away. I'm on day four with…
    9 January 2017
  • Anna
    Re: Rebound Nasal Congestion
    Been addicted to sudafed blocked nose spray for about 3 months. I have threw my bottle away. I'm on day four with no spray at all and…
    7 January 2017
  • Desiree Petersen
    Re: When To See Your Doctor
    For almost a year now I suffer with hayfever symptoms together with a cough that come and go. My chest weez and I use a pump because…
    30 August 2016
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the HayfeverExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.