When looking at both disorders simultaneously, most people do not equate allergies with stress. Allergies are an environmental health problem, caused by poor reactions of the immune system to the environment. Stress, on the other hand, is the body’s response to situations, inside and out, which interfere with the normal balances of life. Basically, every one of the body’s systems — digestive, cardiovascular, immune, and nervous system – are affected by stress.
Surprisingly, however, the two disorders have a fairly strong link, both directly and indirectly, and most who suffer from both may need to address each of the issues equally to successfully treat them.
How Stress and Allergies Go Hand in Hand
Even recent studies have found that stress may trigger symptom flare-ups in people with seasonal allergies, as 64 % of participants with higher stress levels had more than four flare-ups over two 14-day periods than those who did not, according to findings in the April 2014 issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Though the specific causes are not fully known, stress and allergies do go hand in hand, and once allergy season comes into full bloom, the combination of miserable allergy symptoms, sleepless nights, and fatigue will definitely leave many in need of stress relief.
What’s more is that when stressed, the body releases various hormones and chemicals, including histamine, a powerful chemical that can further lead to allergy symptoms. Though stress doesn’t directly cause allergic reactions, it can make them worse by increasing the amount of histamine in the bloodstream.
In addition, chronic stress that persists for weeks or even months produces cortisol, the body’s main stress-induced hormone. Elevated levels of cortisol affect the cells, compromising the immune system and not allowing it to keep infections or diseases at bay. Many scientists have revealed groundbreaking evidence on the effects of stress on immune function as well as respiratory functions.
When your body is under stress and feeling overwhelmed, allergies are made even worse, which, in turn, increases the amount of stress you feel and causes you to engage in behaviors that can sometimes make allergies worse or harder to treat including: abuse of toxic substances like drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, over or undereating, lack of sleep, and missed doctor appointments due to stressful life situations.
How to Manage Stress to Relieve Allergy Symptoms
It can be as simple as moving forth with good stress-relief therapies like going to bed and resting earlier to help restore the body’s resistance, avoiding people or situations that trigger anxiety, and exercising more often to help reduce stress hormones. Movement produces epinephrine, which acts as a natural decongestant that helps for easier breathing. Meditation and yoga, in addition, often times aid in stress reduction and more relaxation as well.
Other ways to stay on track include regularly taking allergy medications, as stress may cause anxiety and depression, and depressed individuals are less compliant with medications. Setting priorities and budgeting time in that daily routine may also allow for further relief since maintaining a more balanced lifestyle filled with moments of R&R each day helps manage allergy symptoms more effectively.
Learn to also reduce stress by working closely with your doctor to develop an asthma or allergy action plan by identifying allergy triggers and seasons, talking to social workers or others who can council you on dealing with social and emotional stressors, and knowing what specific treatments and medications can help you. Usually, having a detailed action plan set in stone can allow for feelings of empowerment and reduced stress levels when living with allergies.
Let Us Be of Help
Though stress may not directly cause allergic reactions, it can definitely make allergies harder to live with. Learn more about the connections between stress and allergies then find out how to best manage your symptoms by contacting Dr. Mayank Shukla today. Doctor Shukla and his team have years of experience in pediatric respiratory medicine, particularly asthma, allergies, and other chronic breathing problems, and with their help you can be sure you’ll be stress free and ready for any allergy emergency.