Stress may trigger symptom flare-ups in people with seasonal allergies, a new study suggests.
Researchers followed 179 people with hay fever for 12 weeks, and found that 39 percent of them had more than one flare-up. Those patients had higher levels of stress than those who didn't have allergy symptoms during the study period.
Sixty-four percent of the participants with higher stress levels had more than four flare-ups over two 14-day periods, according to the findings in the April issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
There was no significant link between stress and flare-ups on the same day, but a number of people had flare-ups within days of experiencing increased daily stress, the researchers said.
"Stress can cause several negative effects on the body, including causing more symptoms for allergy sufferers," study author Dr. Amber Patterson, of Ohio State University, said in a journal news release. "Our study also found those with more frequent allergy flares also have a greater negative mood, which may be leading to these flares," she added.
"Symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes can cause added stress for allergy sufferers, and may even be the root of stress for some," Patterson said. "While alleviating stress won't cure allergies, it may help decrease episodes of intense symptoms."
Although the study found an association between stress levels and severity of allergy symptoms, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Ways to reduce and control stress include: meditation and deep breathing; making time for fun and relaxation; eating right, getting sufficient sleep and taking care of health issues; asking for help from a family member, co-worker or social worker; and eliminating things that cause stress and learning how to cope with it better.