Do your allergies flare up when stressed? Learn about the link between stress and allergies and how you can manage symptoms
While it’s unclear whether stress and anxiety directly cause allergies, stress levels can trigger or worsen allergy symptoms by affecting your immune system.
Several studies have established a link between stress and allergies:
- Children with a history of asthma who were exposed to increased stress in early childhood were more likely to develop allergic asthma.
- During periods of high stress, many people experienced flare-ups of allergic rhinitis, asthma, and eczema
- Stress hormones in the blood were found to worsen nasal allergies.
How is stress related to allergy symptoms?
Stress is your body’s way of responding to situations that are potentially dangerous. Your adrenal gland produces cortisol, and as a result, your heartbeat and blood pressure increases, and blood flow increases to your brain. This can lead to heartburn, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, anxiety, and many other health issues.
Chronic stress and elevated cortisol can also negatively impact the cells in your immune system, the byproduct of which is allergies. In addition to cortisol, your body releases histamines when under stress, and increased levels of histamines in your bloodstream can worsen allergy symptoms.
So stress can trigger allergy symptoms, and struggling with allergies can also cause stress, leading to a vicious cycle. So it’s important to understand how to manage both so that you can keep symptoms under control.
How to manage allergy symptoms triggered by stress
- Identify stress triggers and ways to cope with them.
- Get enough sleep every night
- Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation or breathing exercises.
- Work out as a part of your daily routine, since physical activity can help release feel-good hormones and combat stress. Your body also releases the hormone epinephrine, which acts as a natural decongestant and can make breathing easier.
- Continue with allergy medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Medically Reviewed on 7/30/2021
Yamanaka-Takaichi M, Mizukami Y, Sugawara K, et al. Stress and Nasal Allergy: Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone Stimulates Mast Cell Degranulation and Proliferation in Human Nasal Mucosa. Int J Mol Sci. 2021; 22(5):2773. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/5/2773
Patterson AM, Yildiz VO, Klatt MD, Malarkey WB. Perceived Stress Predicts Allergy Flares. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2014;112(4):317-321. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4120667/