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Mental Health

This Surprising (and Common) Problem Could Be Making Your Allergies Worse

Spring is a beautiful time of year, but many people actually dread the return of warmer weather. After all, it’s not easy to enjoy the sunshine when it also comes with a side of runny noses and itchy eyes due to seasonal allergies. However, a new study claims the rising pollen count might not deserve all the blame: Our stress levels could be making allergy symptoms worse. 

The news comes from Osaka City University in Japan. Lead study author Mika Yamanaka-Takaichi explains, “In daily practice, I meet many patients with allergies who say their symptoms worsened due to psychological stress. This is what led me to do this research.”

It didn’t take long for Dr. Yamanaka-Takaichi’s team to find a link between the presence of corticotropin-releasing stress hormone (CRH) and mast cells, which are responsible for developing allergies in our nasal cavities. They made this discovery by adding CRH to a nasal culture and found a “significant increase” in the number of mast cells. 

Essentially, the presence of this stress hormone can cause more of those allergy-developing cells to pop up in our nasal cavity, which then makes us more sensitive to allergy triggers. 

Of course, we’re living in a stressful time — and dealing with seasonal allergies in and of itself can cause a lot of stress — so it can quickly feel like a vicious circle. Thankfully, the team also found promising potential with stress-relieving therapy, like prescription medications that specifically target CRH. 

You can also try natural stress relievers like gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) or magnesium supplements. And while we’re on the subject of allergy relief, it turns out that continuing to wear our masks while we wait for the country to reach herd immunity will also help lower our chances of annoying allergy symptoms.

All of this is especially good to keep in mind considering the reports that claim we’re in for an even longer pollen season than usual this year. Hopefully, we can all find ways to keep our stress levels and allergy symptoms as low as possible.

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