Can Stress Make Allergies Worse?

Everyone has experienced stress at some point, but what is it? Stress is your body’s reaction to a threat or challenge. We generally think of stress as being caused by a negative situation like an overly hectic day at work or death of a loved one, but it can also be caused by positive events like a wedding or graduation.

Stress is often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. When your body experiences stress, it releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Excess levels of these chemicals can cause headaches, insomnia, and an elevated risk of heart complications. Constant stress can cause physical and mental harm.

What are allergies?

Allergies are the body’s reaction to usually harmless substances. Something such as pollen, grass, or peanuts can cause sneezing, runny nose, hives, gastrointestinal issues, or in extreme cases result in anaphylaxis. The substances that cause reactions are called allergens. Every person is unique, and their bodies react differently to various allergens.


How are allergies and stress related?

Stress and allergies have an interesting relationship. Stress can worsen allergies and on the other hand, allergies can increase your stress level and has a natural tendency to intensify emotional reactions. The feeling that your allergies won’t get better and never will is overwhelming and sets off the stress response.

At a scientific level, histamine is a powerful compound that elevates allergy symptoms — increased stress results in more histamine being released into your bloodstream. Elevated levels of histamine can lead to more intense and lasting allergy symptoms. Stress won’t cause allergies, but when you’re stressed out, allergy symptoms can get worse.

Ways to de-stress

If you’re struggling with stress, you’re not alone! Stress is something to take seriously. Here are some helpful strategies to help manage stress.


According to Emily Melby, RDN, at Allergy Associates of La Crosse, avoid sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and refined grains to help alleviate stress. Instead, eat a variety of whole grains as well as fruit and vegetables. It’s also helpful to add nuts, seeds, and fish high in omega 3s to your diet depending upon your personal allergies.

Body Scan

Many of us don’t take the time to listen to what our body is trying to tell us. Take the time to lay down, close your eyes, and acknowledge every part of your body. If you feel tense, focus on relaxing that portion of your body longer.

Self Care

The human body needs to be well maintained to decrease stress levels:

  • Make sure that you get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Ditch the junk food. Maintaining a well-balanced diet allows the brain and body to absorb and use the nutrients it needs to feel energized and sharp.
  • Drinking enough water allows the body to function at its best; there are endless benefits to drinking water.


Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is a powerful tool. Take some deep breaths and imagine a happy place that holds significance to you. Guided imagery allows your mind to find a positive place to relax.

Ready to take the leap and start treating the cause and changing allergic disease?

Start by finding a provider near you that is trained in using allergy drop treatment — personalized just for you — following the La Crosse Method Protocol.