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Stress can make spring allergies worse

Tuesday - 4/1/2014, 4:30pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- It's a prescription for spring trouble: New research shows that stress can make your allergies worse.

Researchers from Ohio State University studied 179 patients for 12 weeks and found those with higher stress levels had more allergy flare-ups than others.

The findings came as no surprise to Dr. Sally Joo Bailey, an allergist and assistant professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

She says stress has been shown to increase inflammation in the body, and an allergy is, basically, a form of inflammation.

"Stress isn't causing it," she says. "But overall, it probably isn't helping the situation."

She says that applies to all the basic allergy symptoms, including congestion and itchy eyes.

"All of that is actually an inflammatory process," she explains. "So when we are talking about stress causing an effect in terms of your symptoms, it can increase all of that."

The Ohio State researchers emphasize that while reducing stress won't cure allergies, it may help decrease periods of intense symptoms. Their findings were released in the April issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

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