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Anxiety and Allergies

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: June 27, 2019


Allergies, anxiety, and increased symptoms

Allergies and Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety and increased allergies can be experienced as:

  • An increase in allergy sensitivity, frequency, severity, and duration in conjunction with an increase in anxiety.
  • You notice your allergy symptoms are much more severe and persistent when your stress and anxiety are elevated.
  • You notice there is a link between your anxiety and allergies, allergy symptoms, sensitivities, and allergic reactions.
  • You might also notice your allergic reactions take much longer to subside when your anxiety increases.
  • You might have also noticed that as your anxiety increased, you developed new allergies and to things you weren’t previously allergic to.

Anxiety disorder increased allergies might come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you might have episodes of allergy problems and flare-ups once and a while and not that often, have them off and on, or have an increase in allergies, allergic reactions, or allergy sensitivities all the time.

Anxiety allergy problems can precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by themselves.

Anxiety allergy problems can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur "out of the blue" and for no apparent reason.

Anxiety and allergy problems can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. They can also come in waves where they are strong one moment and ease off the next.

Allergies and anxiety problems can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All variations and combinations of the above are common.

The Link Between Allergies and Anxiety

While allergies don’t cause anxiety (unless you are anxious about your allergies or allergy symptoms), anxiety can cause an increase in allergies, allergy symptoms, allergic reactions, and allergy sensitivities.

Research has found that stress aggravates allergies.[1][2][3] Since anxiety stresses the body,[4][5][6] anxiety can aggravate allergies.

Becoming or getting anxious about allergies?

Anxiety occurs when you worry that you could be in danger. Since some allergies can be harmful, and even life threatening for some people, yes, you can become anxious about allergies if you are concerned that some of your allergy symptoms have the potential to cause harm.

What is the best way to alleviate anxiety about allergic reactions?

Two of the most effective ways to alleviate anxiety about allergic reactions and increased allergies are:

1. Have an emergency action plan should an allergic reaction occur.

Planning for an emergency ahead of time eliminates having to sort it out in the midst of an allergy attack or allergic reaction. Having quick and easy access to your medication, having numbers to call in case of an emergency, and knowing routes to the nearest hospital can eliminate unnecessary worry and problems if your allergies are severe.

Also, it’s wise to discuss your emergency plan with your doctor.

2. Address your fears and anxiety issues.

There are many ways to alleviate worries and fears about allergies. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address your anxiety issues, and especially those about allergies.

Take our free online anxiety test or anxiety disorder test to see if you have issues with anxiety. You can also read our our “Can you have symptoms of anxiety without feeling anxious” article for more information about how anxiety symptoms can occur when a person doesn’t feel anxious.

How to eliminate an increase in allergy symptoms caused by stress?

Reducing stress and increasing rest are the best ways to eliminate a stress-caused increase in allergy symptoms. Reducing stress and increasing rest rejuvenate the body’s immune system making it more resistant to allergies. It may take some time before you see some results, however, as the body is slow to recover from the adverse effects of stress. Recovery from chronic stress often takes much longer than most people expect.

There are many ways to reduce stress, such as:

  • Regular deep relaxation
  • Doing things you love
  • Delegating responsibilities
  • Setting realistic expectations
  • Regular light to moderate exercise
  • Spending more time outdoors in nature
  • Getting good sleep
  • Increasing rest

Recovery Support members can read the article “Tips For Managing Stressful Times” in chapter 14 for 40 effective ways to reduce stress.

How to eliminate an increase in allergy symptoms caused by anxiety?

Addressing your anxiety issues will reduce your body’s stress, since anxiety stresses the body. As your body’s stress diminishes, you should see a reduction in allergies, allergy problems, allergic reactions, and allergy sensitivities.

Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxious behavior. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety issues can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to overcome anxiety disorder and its symptoms.

For more information about anxiety, common barriers to recovery, how to extinguish common fears associated with anxiety, and realistic recovery expectations, we have many chapters that address this in the Recovery Support area of our website.

Allergies and anxiety frequently asked questions

Can anxiety increase allergy symptoms?

Yes, research has shown that stress can increase allergies, allergy symptoms, allergic reactions, and allergy sensitivities; the length of time allergy, allergies, and allergic reactions persist; and can increase the severity and frequency of allergy, allergies, and allergic reaction symptoms.[1][2][3]

Anxiety can also play a role since apprehensive behavior, such as worrying and being concerned, activates the stress response.[4] Stress responses stress the body.[5][6] The stress anxiety causes is the reason why many anxious people experience an increase in allergic reactions, sensitivities, and symptoms when they have an anxiety disorder.

Can allergies cause anxiety?

No, allergies themselves don’t cause anxiety. Anxiety occurs when we behave in an apprehensive manner, such as worrying and fearing the worst. Being concerned and worrying about allergies and the harm allergic reactions could cause, however, does create anxiety. So, worrying about your allergies can cause anxiety.

Can allergies cause anxiety feeling?

Yes, allergies can cause anxiety feelings – symptoms and feelings similar to anxiety. For example, rashes, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, feel like your throat is closing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, dizziness, feeling faint, feeling like you might pass out, and a sense of impending doom are common symptoms of anxiety and an allergic reaction.

Can allergies cause anxiety symptoms?

While allergies don’t cause anxiety symptoms, they can cause anxiety-like symptoms. Shortness of breath; tight throat; dizziness and lightheadedness; sweating; itchy, red, dry, and watery eyes; stomach pain; diarrhea; vomiting; skin rashes (such as itchy or burning skin); hives; fatigue; headache; and so on[7] are common allergy symptoms, which are similar to symptoms of anxiety. Allergy symptoms can become more numerous and severe if a person is anxious about their allergies since anxiety causes stress and stress can aggravate allergy symptoms.

Is anxiety a symptom of allergies?

No, anxiety is not a symptom of allergies. But allergies can cause some people to become anxious if they are worried about their allergies, allergy symptoms, allergic reactions, or allergy sensitivities since worry is an example of apprehensive behavior, which causes anxiety.

Can allergies cause anxiety and dizziness?

No, allergies don’t cause anxiety or its symptoms, such as dizziness. But allergies can cause anxiety-like symptoms, such as dizziness and lightheadedness, and anxiety if a person is anxious about their allergies and their symptoms.

Can food allergies cause anxiety?

Anxiety is caused by apprehensive behavior. So, no, food allergies don’t cause anxiety. If a person is worried about food allergies, however, that worry can cause anxiety since worry is an example of apprehensive behavior that causes anxiety.

Can anxiety cause food allergies?

Yes. Anxiety stresses the body[4][5] and stress can cause and aggravate allergies.[4][5] So, behaving anxiously can cause and aggravate food allergies. This can be compounded if a person is worried about their food allergies and how those allergies could affect their eating.

For instance, some people are concerned that a food allergy could cause their throat to close, or worse, an anaphylactic reaction. This worry creates anxiety, which in turn creates stress that can aggravate food allergies.

Can allergic rhinitis cause anxiety?

No. Anxiety is caused by apprehensive behavior. But allergic rhinitis can cause anxiety-like symptoms, which can make some people anxious if they are worried about their allergy symptoms.

Can anxiety make hay fever (allergic rhinitis) worse?

Yes! Anxiety-caused stress can aggravate allergies, including hay fever since stress can aggravate allergies.[1]

Can hay fever (allergic rhinitis) make anxiety worse?

Yes! Research has found that the emotional burden of hay fever can make anxiety worse for those who are anxious.[8] Michael Blaiss, MD, ACAAI Executive Medical Director and lead author of the study “The burden of allergic rhinitis and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis on adolescents” stated, “Three of the studies in our review examined how adolescents are emotionally affected by hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and hay fever with eye allergies (allergic rhinoconjunctivitis). They found adolescents with hay fever had higher rates of anxiety and depression, and a lower resistance to stress. The adolescents also exhibited more hostility, impulsivity and changed their minds often."

Does high histamine levels cause anxiety?

Anxiety is caused by apprehensive behavior. So, no, high histamine levels don’t cause anxiety. But, the symptoms of high histamine can cause anxiety-like symptoms. If a person is anxious about those symptoms, that anxiousness will cause anxiety since anxiousness is an example of apprehensive behavior.

Moreover, high histamine levels, often referred to as “histamine intolerance,” can cause similar feelings to an involuntary panic attack.[9] These panic attack-like episodes can be aggravated if a person is worried about having panic attacks and their symptoms.

Can anxiety increase histamine?

Yes. Anxiety activates the stress response causing the release of stress hormones and other chemicals, including histamine, the chemical that leads to allergic reactions and allergy symptoms.[10][11] Even though anxiety and the stress it creates doesn’t cause allergies, anxiety can aggravate existing allergies and allergy sensitivities.

As anxiety-caused stress increases, so does histamine, which is why chronic anxiety and stress have been linked to increased allergies, allergic reactions, and allergy sensitivities.[1][2][3]

Does Benadryl help anxiety?

Some people find Benadryl helpful in reducing their anxiety and symptoms. Also, having Benadryl on hand can significantly reduce anxiety about allergies and allergic reactions, which can be a benefit if you are anxious about allergies.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources:


Return to Anxiety Frequent Questions section.


REFERENCES:

1. Ohio State University. "Stress, Anxiety Can Make Allergy Attacks Even More Miserable And Last Longer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 August 2008.

2. Harter, K, et al. "Different Psychosocial Factors Are Associated with Seasonal and Perennial Allergies in Adults: Cross-Sectional Results of the KORA FF4 Study." Allergy and Immunology, 2019.

3. H. Friedman, Abby & Morris, Tracy. (2006). Allergies and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings. 13. 318-331. 10.1007/s10880-006-9026-7.

4. Godoy, Livea, et al. "A Comprehensive Overview on Stress Neurobiology: Basic Concepts and Clinical Implications." Frontiers In Behavioral Neuroscience, 3, July 2018.

5. Murison, Robert. "The Neurobiology of Stress." 2016.

6. Berczi, Istvan. “Walter Cannon's ‘Fight or Flight Response’ - ‘Acute Stress Response.’” Walter Cannon's "Fight or Flight Response"  - "Acute Stress Response", 2017.

7. “Allergy Symptoms.” ACAAI Public Website, 28 Sept. 2018.

8. Blaiss, Michael, et al. "The burden of allergic rhinitis and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis on adolescents." Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, July 2018.

9. “When Excess Histamine Feels Like a Panic Attack.” Markham Integrative Medicine, 13 Feb. 2017.

10. Ninabahen, Dave, et al. "Stress and Allergic Diseases." Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America, 1 Feb. 2012.

11. Eutamene, Helene, et al. "Acute stress modulates the histamine content of mast cells in the gastrointestinal tract through interleukin-1 and corticotropin-releasing factor release in rats." The Journal of Physiology, 15 Dec. 2003.


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