Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stress Worsens Allergies

Being stressed out might cause more severe and longer lasting allergy attacks, according to a study conducted by researchers from Ohio State University-Columbus and presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Boston. "People may be setting themselves up to have more persistent problems by being stressed and anxious when allergy attacks begin," researcher Janice Kiecolt-Glaser said. Researchers had 28 female and male volunteers with a history of seasonal allergies take part in a high stress and a low stress activity on different days. Both before and immediately after each activity, the researchers rated the participants' levels of stress and anxiety and pricked their skin with a standard allergen. The low stress activity involved reading magazines quietly, while the high stress activity involved performing tasks in front of a group of "behavior evaluators" - including giving a 10 minute speech and solving math problems without paper - while being videotaped, then watching the tape. The more anxious a person was after the high stress activity, the greater their reaction to the allergy skin prick test as measured by the size of the allergic reaction, or wheal, on their forearm. Moderately stressed participants had wheals 75 percent larger after the high stress condition than the low stress condition. Highly stress participants had wheals 100 percent larger after the high stress activity than the low stress one. People who reacted with high levels of anxiety were also four times more likely to have their allergic wheals persist for at least one full day. This suggests that stress and anxiety may cause allergy attacks to last into the next day. This delayed reaction, known to be resistant to antihistamines, is "really what's ugly about allergies," Kiecolt-Glaser said. Researcher Ronald Glaser speculated that elevated levels of stress hormones and the inflammation proteins interleukin-6 might be to blame for the effect. Source -

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