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Allergies Health Center

Stress Relief Strategies to Ease Allergy Symptoms

Do daily pressures have your allergy symptoms spiking? Try these simple tips for stress relief.
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Does Stress Cause Allergy Symptoms? continued...

Allergy symptoms are an example of an overreaction by the immune system to otherwise harmless substances, says Gailen D. Marshall, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Mississippi.

Understanding the mechanisms of allergy is recent -- just over the past 35 to 40 years, says Marshall, who is director of the division of clinical immunology and allergy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.  While allergic diseases have both genetic and environmental components there's still so much about allergy we don't know.

"In the late 1960s, we'd ask people how many had allergies and an estimated 1 in 10 people reported some form of allergy," Marshall says. "Now compare that with 1 in 3 people in 2000 having some form of allergy."

So, what's changed? While genes don't change that fast, probably our environment has. Marshall believes more air pollution, along with a "squeaky clean society," each play a role in increasing allergies.

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.

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