What Stress Might Have To Do With Your Allergies

Here's a good reason for allergy sufferers to stay calm and collected: Persistent stress is associated with flare-ups, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, shows an association between higher perceived stress and allergy flares.

"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," study researcher Dr. Amber Patterson, M.D., of Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University, said in a statement. "While alleviating stress won't cure allergies, it may help decrease episodes of intense symptoms."

The study included 179 university employees who completed questionnaires on their stress and depressive symptoms at the beginning of the study, which lasted for 12 weeks. The study participants kept daily online diaries of their allergy flares, stress and mood, and also had saliva samples collected every day for two 14-day periods during the time of the study, in order to measure cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

Sixty-nine, or 39 percent, of the study participants reported having symptoms of allergies over the study (more than one allergy flare). While cortisol levels were not associated with allergy flares, researchers did find an association between perceived stress levels and experiencing these allergy flares. Among the high-stress study participants, 64 percent of them had more than four allergy flares over the two 14-day periods in the study.

Researchers also found an association between negative mood and allergy flares -- "those with more flares have greater negative mood," they wrote in the study.