Stress doesn’t just make your palms sweat and your heart beat faster—according to new research, it can cause your allergies to act up, too.
In a new study, researchers from Ohio State University recruited 28 men and women who suffered from hay fever and seasonal allergies, and tested their allergic reactions using a standard pin-prick test. To induce stress in the test subjects, researchers asked them to give a 10-minute speech before a panel of evaluators, then solve math problems without paper or pen. To cap it off, they then had to watch their performance on videotape. For the low-stress test, they read from a magazine and then taped themselves reading the material aloud. Researchers measured their allergic reaction through the appearance of “wheals”—raised wounds on the forearms.
“The wheals on a person who was moderately anxious because of the experiment were 75 per cent larger after the experiment, compared to that same person’s response on the day when they were not stressed,” says Ohio State researcher Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, according to ScienceDaily.
Test subjects who were highly stressed, meanwhile, had wheals that were twice as big after the stress test, compared to when they were more relaxed.The next day, they were also four times more likely to have a more prominent reaction.