Even a little stress and anxiety can greatly worsen and extend a person's reaction to common allergens, a new study says.
finding, to be presented Thursday at the American Psychological
Association annual meeting, in Boston, are important, as allergies are
the fifth-most-common chronic disease in the United States. The
researchers estimated that Americans pay more than $3.4 billion for
allergy medications and allergy-related doctor visits annually, and
lose about 3.5 million work days a year because of them.
are not minor problems," researcher Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of
psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State, said in a news release issued
by the university. "A huge number of people suffer from allergies and,
while hay fever, for example, is generally not life-threatening,
allergy sufferers often also have asthma, which can be deadly."
"The wheals on a person who was moderately anxious because of the
experiment were 75 percent larger after the experiment, compared to
that same person's response on the day when they were not stressed,"
Kiecolt-Glaser said, signifying a stronger reaction.
people who were highly anxious had wheals that were twice as big after
they were stressed compared to their response when they were not
stressed. Moreover, these same people were four times more likely to
have a stronger reaction to the skin test one day later after the
stress," she said.
"Late-phase reactions also occur in allergic asthma and can, in the
proper settings, be potentially life-threatening. The results of this
study should alert practitioners and patients alike to the adverse
effects of stress on allergic reactions in the nose, chest, skin and
other organs that may seemingly resolve within a few minutes to hours
after starting, but may reappear the next day when least expected," he
Therefore, people may be setting themselves up to have more
persistent allergy issues by being stressed and anxious when allergy
attacks begin, Kiecolt-Glaser said.
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