Stress worsens allergies, study finds

Allergy sufferers don't need experts to tell them this has been a rough spring, but those experts are saying it’s among the worst years in recent memory.

Additionally, there's growing evidence that stress might play a roll in making allergies even worse.

Rockville resident Mike Sanoff is allergic to tree and gross pollen, and his allergies have been especially bad this spring. “The other day my band had a gig, I sing back up vocals, I could barely sing because I had so much post-nasal drip from the stress of the day,” Sanoff said.

Medical research including a recent study shows long-term or chronic stress may worsen existing allergies.

Allergy expert Dr. Talal Nsouli first noticed the linkage between the brain and allergies back in 1988, and says the recent studies seem to validate that point.

“It amplifies the situation,” Dr. Nsouli said about stress. “In terms of increase, it can maybe double the allergy symptoms to a certain extent because the patient doesn’t’ respond to the treatment and doesn’t’ do well.”

Anecdotally, Sanoff’s experience squares up with the research. “I get worse post-nasal drip if I don't get enough sleep or if I'm stressed, no doubt about it,” he said.

Chronic stress is long-lasting stress and comes from chronic illness, poor working or living conditions, even financial concerns. Couple that with not eating well, or not getting enough sleep, and the combination can send allergies into overdrive.

Sanoff relies on medication and allergy shots to get through the allergy. Doctor Nsouli says allergy patients should make sure to get enough sleep - six to eight hours a night – exercise for 30 to 40 minutes every other day, and talk to their doctors about options for controlling allergy symptoms.