Psychological stress and anxiety can make seasonal allergy attacks both worse and longer lasting.
To gauge how stress and anxiety affect allergy sufferers, researchers recruited 28 men and women with a history of seasonal allergies to participate in a laboratory study. On different days, the volunteers were subjected to a low-stress condition or to a much more stressful condition.
Anxiety following the stressful event heightened the magnitude of the allergic reactions induced by skin prick tests. These allergic reactions show up on the forearm as slight wounds, or "wheals."
People who were moderately stressed because of the experiment had wheals that were 75 percent larger compared to the same person's response after the low-stress condition. People who were highly stressed had wheals that were twice as large as the low-stress response. Moreover, these highly stressed people were four times more likely to still retain allergic wheals a full day after the stressful event occurred.
* Reuters August 14, 2008