How Is Stress Related To Allergy Symptoms
Stress is your body’s response to situations, inside and out, which interfere with the normal balance in your life. Virtually all of the body’s systems — digestive, cardiovascular, immune, and nervous system — make adjustments in response to stress.
When you’re all stressed out, your body releases hormones and other chemicals, including histamine, the powerful chemical that leads to allergy symptoms. While stress doesn’t actually cause allergies, it can make an allergic reaction worse by increasing the histamine in your bloodstream.
Unfortunately, stress and allergies go hand in hand, says Los Angeles-based ear, nose, and throat doctor, Murray Grossan, MD. Once the allergy season is full-blown, the combination of miserable allergy symptoms, nights of fitful sleep, and fatigue, definitely leave you in need of stress relief.
And to add insult to injury, “After weeks of sneezing, coughing, and blowing your nose, your body’s natural resistance is completely exhausted, too,” Grossan tells WebMD.
Chronic stress that persists for weeks or even months produces cortisol, the body’s main stress-induced hormone. When cortisol becomes elevated and remains so for awhile, it affects the cells that comprise your immune system. The immune system can’t keep infections or diseases at bay as it would do normally. Viruses or bacteria proliferate to the point where they can infect many cells, leading to symptoms and increased chance of illness.
Focus On Your Breathing
- Keep the airways clear. A nasal spray or neti pot will help to manually flush out any allergens from the nose. They also dissolve any goo that may be blocking the airways. Itching, dryness and irritation will be soothed. A.Vogel’s Pollinosan Nasal Spray is licensed for the relief of hayfever and allergic rhinitis symptoms. It may be more convenient than hanging over the sink with your nasal rinse. It’s fine for long-term use, for asthma suffers, and for children for the age of six.
- Are you a mouth breather? Mouth breathing has been linked to more acute asthma attacks5. Mouth breathers are more likely to develop allergic rhinitis. If you breathe through your mouth you are more likely to snore and to have a poor night’s sleep. You may also wake up with a dry and sore throat. Your nose is a filter that has all these little hairs and mucus to trap impurities and toxins. Air is warmed as it passes through the nose so that cold air doesn’t irritate the throat and lungs. Try to use your nose to breathe through if you don’t it will just block up more.
- Stress and anxiety can make the breath rapid and shallow. It usually accompanies an increased heart rate. It can feel as if you are running out of breath. This is not helping your allergies. Box or relaxation breathing can help defuse an anxious moment. Read about it here – Breathing tips to relieve stress.
Histamine Affects The Central Nervous System
People forget that histamine, the stuff your immune cells release when they perceive a threat , is a neurotransmitter.
It is responsible for cell to cell communication, sending signals that impact sleep, body temperature, cardiovascular signals, food intake, memory and much more.3
Simply put, histamine affects the central nervous system.
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Can Hay Fever Make Anxiety Worse
Yes! Research has found that the emotional burden of hay fever can make anxiety worse for those who are anxious. Michael Blaiss, MD, ACAAI Executive Medical Director and lead author of the study The burden of allergic rhinitis and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis on adolescents stated, Three of the studies in our review examined how adolescents are emotionally affected by hay fever and hay fever with eye allergies . They found adolescents with hay fever had higher rates of anxiety and depression, and a lower resistance to stress. The adolescents also exhibited more hostility, impulsivity and changed their minds often.”
Managing Anxiety & Feeling In Control
It is very common to feel worried about having an allergic reaction. While anaphylaxis has the potential to cause death, fatalities are rare and usually avoidable. When you know the facts about food allergy, you can greatly reduce the risks of an allergic reaction. As managing allergies becomes part of daily life, you will feel more confident and in control. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- If you are not sure about the level of risk in a certain situation, talk to your doctor, to us at Food Allergy Canada, or a local support group. If you dont have the facts, it is easy to worry and difficult to find solutions.
Dont be afraid of the allergen. Learn as much as possible the more you know, the more you can be in control. Knowledge is power.
After a reaction
After a serious allergic reaction, there often is a period of readjustment. It can have a significant impact on you and your family as you all make sense of what happened. A serious allergic reaction often prompts key questions about how it happened, how it was handled and what can be done differently in the future.
However, if things are not getting better, and you or your child with allergies feel very anxious, talk to your doctor and a referral to a specialist who can help with coping strategies.
For parents of children with food allergy
You are a role model for your child. Help your child feel confident in daily life by following these tips:
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What Is The Best Decongestant For Kids
The worst sufferers of allergies are kids. At least adults can agree to stay indoors during allergy season, but kids, on the other hand, have no patience in staying indoors during spring break. Like many adults, kids also suffer from nasal congestion. So, what are the safest drugs for them? Lets find out.
The best option is to avoid any kind of decongestant as much as possible. Even the FDA has advised parents to avoid the use of antihistamines for kids under the age of two. These medications often contain ingredients that can be very harmful to children. And if the child accidentally consumes more than the prescribed amount, then there is a high chance of poisoning.
Without decongestants, there are ways to relieve nasal congestion for kids. Drinking plenty of fluids, using a cool-mist humidifier, and performing nasal suctioning with a syringe are some of the ways. Besides, for severe cases, saline nasal drops, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can be used. But they must be used cautiously after talking to a doctor no matter if you choose a decongestant that doesnt cause anxiety.
Does High Histamine Levels Cause Anxiety
Anxiety is caused by apprehensive behavior. So, no, high histamine levels dont cause anxiety. But, the symptoms of high histamine can cause anxiety-like symptoms. If a person is anxious about those symptoms, that anxiousness will cause anxiety since anxiousness is an example of apprehensive behavior.
Moreover, high histamine levels, often referred to as histamine intolerance, can cause similar feelings to an involuntary panic attack. These panic attack-like episodes can be aggravated if a person is worried about having panic attacks and their symptoms.
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What Can Make Your Symptoms Worse
Stress hormones can also make allergies symptoms more acute1. They ramp up an already hypersensitive immune system. Anxiety may not be the reason that you have allergies but it is a contributing factor.
When stressed or anxious, chemicals such as cytokines are released by the body. These chemicals are messaging signals. They would have allowed our caveman selves to respond quickly to danger – something like a tiger attack.
In 2020, a common anxiety trigger is more likely to be a queue for the supermarket. Rummaging for supplies in your rubber gloves may feel just as hazardous! Who needs tigers when we now view other people as toxic obstacles?
Stress chemicals are there to ensure that we activate our ‘run away’ muscles. They can also make our immune system more sensitive to threat.
Resources That Can Help
If you are experiencing symptoms of food allergy anxiety, theres a wealth of information out there, but you must look in the right places. Googling information or seeking out answers in social media groups can often increase our anxiety. When we use these sources, we arent getting the most valid or credible information, and its typically information of the extreme. When we expose ourselves to extreme case after extreme case, we tend to start thinking thats the norm which can substantially increase our anxiety.
Educational resources presented at the time of diagnosis can help relieve a lot of this anxiety and can often prevent it from starting in the first place. Food Allergy Research & Education and The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team are reliable organizations that offer helpful information on their Newly Diagnosed pages as well as through their Food Allergy Field Guides. I also offer educational handouts on my website, including tips for how to reduce anxiety and how to read a food label. This type of information is critical for anyone navigating a new food allergy diagnosis and seeking answers to questions such as:
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Can Anxiety Increase Allergy Symptoms
Yes, research has shown that stress can increase allergies, allergy symptoms, allergic reactions, and allergy sensitivities the length of time allergy, allergies, and allergic reactions persist and can increase the severity and frequency of allergy, allergies, and allergic reaction symptoms.
Anxiety can also play a role since apprehensive behavior, such as worrying and being concerned, activates the stress response. Stress responses stress the body. The stress anxiety causes is the reason why many anxious people experience an increase in allergic reactions, sensitivities, and symptoms when they have an anxiety disorder.
Tips For Better Sleep During Allergy Season
Sleeping during allergy season can be challenging, but there are ways to make yourself more comfortable. Here are some of our favorite tips:
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Managing Stress To Ease Allergy Symptoms
The experts disagree when it comes to managing stress to ease allergy symptoms. Grossan tells WebMD that after weeks of sneezing, the body’s immune system is exhausted. “Going to bed and resting can help to restore the body’s resistance and is definitely good stress-relief therapy.”
Contrary to this opinion, William E. Berger, MD, MBA, professor of medicine at the University of California, tells WebMD that allergies create stress because you cannot focus on tasks and your coping skills decline.
“When people run, they can breathe better because epinephrine pours throughout the body,” says Berger, past president of the American College of Allergy and Immunology and author of Allergies and Asthma for Dummies.“Epinephrine is also triggered during stressful moments, which should add to better breathing — not worse!”
That said, no two people respond to stressful events in the same way either. What may be a source of emotional excitement for you may cause fear for a friend. For instance, you may love to skydive on your weekend while your best friend cringes even thinking about flying in an airplane. That’s because we all perceive and respond to stressors differently. Again, it’s the inappropriate responses that influence your health and may influence your allergy symptoms.
Uncommon Symptoms You May Not Realize Are Caused By Allergies
Your upset stomach, anxiety or even panic attacks could be the result of too much pollen.
The Hudson Valley is currently experiencing an uptick in allergy sufferers. Pollen counts are through the roof and people are sneezing and wheezing in record numbers. While that stuffy nose can be frustrating, it turns out that it may not be the only uncomfortable side effect of seasonal allergies.
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Allergy And Mental Health
But today I want to focus on a lesser known cause of anxiety, which is seasonal allergies.
When you think of allergy, you probably think of itchy, watery eyes and sneezing, maybe a cough. You dont think of mental health. But living in an environment with multiple allergy triggers can contribute to anxiety.
For those of you who regularly read the blog, you know weve written a lot about histamine.
You can read Kristin Kirkpatricks histamine intolerance post here, but the bottom line is that pollen allergy, or any other seasonal allergy, can cause mental unrest when paired with other factors that cause histamine to build up to excessive levels in the body.
Reducing Allergens In The Bedroom
Eliminating allergens in your bedroom is the best way to reduce the chance that your allergy symptoms will act up at night and interfere with your sleep, making you tired during the day. However, this is often easier said than done. Allergy-causing substances are often found in common places, like your mattress and linens. Humans can easily bring outdoor allergens inside when they collect on clothing and hair.
Taking precautionary measures can help eliminate allergens in your home. Below, you can find ways to limit allergens from some of the most common sources in your bedroom.
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Study Limitations And Aims For The Future
While the research did take into account some potentially modifying factors, such as age, biological sex, smoking status, and the existence of any hereditary predispositions to allergic reactions, the researchers acknowledge that the cohort may not have been representative of diverse age brackets.
We have a relatively high average age of 61 years, so younger people are rather underrepresented here, notes first author Katharina Harter, who works at TUM.
The findings are also based on personal reports rather than official allergy diagnoses, Harter continues. But, we have blood samples from all participants and intend to scientifically verify this point.
Despite these limitations, the study authors emphasize that their findings finally confirm that there is some kind of relationship between seasonal allergies and the experience of anxiety and that doctors need to pay more attention to their patients when they point out such associations.
There are studies that focus on the psychological components of skin diseases or allergic asthma. For the first time, we are now able to show a connection with seasonal allergies.
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Explainer: What is anxiety?
Elizabeth Matsui is an allergist at the University of Texas at Austin. She often talks with parents who are anxious about their childs food allergies. Having a 19-year old whos allergic to peanuts, she understands their worries. But, she notes, its also important for parents to promote independence thats age-appropriate as they grow.
Hubbard suggests that parents and children work together to create guidelines for managing food allergies. One rule might be to always carry auto-injectable epinephrine . Thats a fast-acting drug that calms allergic reactions. But follow-through has practical considerations. Isaac finds the rectangular Auvi-Q fits into his pants pockets more easily than the more commonly used EpiPen. Teens need to decide what works for them within the guidelines of what keeps them safe, Hubbard says.
Parents also should help their childrenself-advocate. They have to come up with language or phrases theyrecomfortable with, says Hubbard. They might say: Id like the grilled cheese,but I have a peanut allergy so I need to know how the food is made, or somesuch. But Hubbard realizes that introverts may have a harder time with that.
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Why Do My Allergies Get Worse At Night
There are a few reasons why allergies affect sleep. For one, cortisol levels drop at night, which affects cells that manage inflammation meaning allergic symptoms, like obstructed airways and nasal congestion, can be more prominent at night. Histamine, a chemical released when allergic reactions occur, can also disturb sleep because of its role in the sleep-wake cycle.
Hay fever has also been shown to contribute to anxiety, which can lead to further sleep deprivation. Whats more, many people also experience anxiety specifically about their inability to sleep. Because allergies, sleep, and anxiety are connected, people who suffer from hay fever might find themselves in an insufferable cycle when their symptoms are present.
Ways Allergies Cause Anxiety
10 WAYS ALLERGIES CAUSE ANXIETY
Whether you suffer from asthma, eczema, hayfever, seasonal allergies or food reactions, you may have noticed that allergies and sensitivities of any kind, can really affect your mental health. Research supports this idea too. Its been found for example that those with eczema and asthma are significantly more likely to have anxiety and depression as well.
Allergy symptoms and anxiety symptoms can also be so similar that they cross over.
- Increased heart rate
- Tingling sensations
Many of these symptoms can be a result of asthma, a food allergy or a panic attack. Because of this we can sometimes have trouble telling the difference between an allergic reaction and anxiety. Its even been suggested that when no medical cause of an allergy can be found, a psychiatric diagnosis should be considered instead. In other words, if your allergic reaction doesnt show up on paper, you may be treated as an anxiety or other mental health patient rather.
However the link between allergies and mental health goes beyond just the confusion of common symptoms. It’s definitely deeper than that. Having allergies and sensitivities can impact our moods and mental health in many ways. This includes both psychological as well as physical influences.
Here are 10 ways allergies can cause anxiety and influence our mental health.
1. Allergies are Stressful
2. The Body-Mind Effect
3. A Threat is a Threat
4. Breathing and Oxygenation
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