Your allergies are bad enough on their own. But add chronic stress to the mix and your irritation or discomfort may become even worse. That's because, over time, stress can cause chemical changes in your body that may affect your immune system. This may make your body even more sensitive to substances that trigger your allergies. leaving you more vulnerable to whatever triggers your allergies. When this happens, allergy symptoms may flare up more easily and your allergic reaction may be worse than usual.
Stress and allergy symptoms
Here are some ways stress may affect symptoms:
- Hives — Those raised, red and often itchy spots on your skin usually indicate an allergic reaction of some sort, but they also may be triggered by stress. If your rash is related to stress, managing stress may help reduce outbreaks.
- Hay fever — If you're going through a stressful time, then hay fever season may make your runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing worse. Thanks to the stress-induced hormone cortisol and it's affect on your immune system, your hay fever symptoms could be worse for a longer period of time.
Help break the cycle
Will removing all of the stressors in your life cause your allergy symptoms to disappear? Probably not but by taking positive steps to help manage stress, you may be able to ease them. Here's what to do:
- Continue with your allergy medication — either over-the-counter or as prescribed by your doctor
- Identify the source of your stress — and then try to deal with it, don't just ignore it
- Get as much sleep as you can — whenever you can
- Get enough exercise to help relieve your stress — and yes, walking counts
- Meditate — to help relax your mind
- Try deep breathing — either alone or combined with yoga
- Make focused movement part of your life — yoga and tai chi are just two examples
- Get support — from family, friends or support groups
- Speak to your doctor — if you need stress-busting help, speak to your healthcare provider for a solution that makes sense for you