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Is stress making my allergies worse? YES

Stress, anxiety, and depression are known to flare up asthma and eczema.  The relationship between stress and allergies, the third component of the atopic triad, is not as well understood.

Stress and Allergy Flares

In a study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, researchers evaluated the relationship between self-reported allergy flares, emotional stress, depression, mood, and salivary cortisol (a biomarker for stress). The two groups being compared were people with allergy flares and people without allergy flares. People recorded stress levels, mood, and allergy symptoms in a daily diary for 4 weeks.

A strong correlation was found between persistent emotional stress and allergy flares! A correlation was also found between allergy flares and negative mood.  Acute stress, depression, and salivary cortisol were not associated with allergy flares. One limitation to the study was the directionality of the correlation.  Stress and negative mood did not necessarily cause allergy flares. Alternatively, allergy flares could have led to increased stress and negative mood. More studies are needed to confirm cause and effect. To read the abstract go to: http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(13)00492-4/abstract

Stress and Food Allergies

Food allergies are becoming more prevalent, especially in children. Increasing prevalence has led to more research about the causes of food allergies. Animal studies have reported a link between psychosocial stress exposure and food allergies, however human studies are lacking.

There are several possible mechanisms for the link between acute or chronic stress and food allergies.  Increased stress may lead to increased release of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which leads to changes in how the intestinal barrier functions and how the passage of food antigen enters through the  intestinal lining.  Other possible mechanisms are the effect of stress on mast cells (allergy cells) in the gut and stress resulting in gut inflammation. Stress may play a significant role in food allergies, but human studies are still needed to determine the exact relationship. To read the abstract go to:  http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(13)00561-9/fulltext

Stress and Heart Disease linked through an allergic process:

The relationship between stress and IgE-mediated responses are not limited to just allergies. A more serious complication of stress is the activation of coronary mast cells resulting in coronary artery inflammation and coronary artery disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24428962

What does this all mean?

Understanding the link between stress and allergies will provide doctors and patients with an additional treatment approaches to their allergies (and perhaps heart disease).  Relaxation and meditation to relieve stress may also lead to better asthma, eczema, and allergy control.

At Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care, we want you to relax this upcoming year!  Cheers to 2015...It may help your asthma, eczema and allergies. So, get out there and yoga!

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