Perceived stress predicts allergy flares

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2014 Apr;112(4):317-21. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.07.013. Epub 2013 Aug 6.


Background: A relation between stress and symptoms of rhinitis has not been established.

Objective: To determine if participants' reporting of allergy flares correlated with perceived emotional stress, depression, mood, and a biomarker of stress (cortisol).

Methods: This study was a secondary analysis of 179 university employees who participated in a study evaluating the influence of several lifestyle interventions on health symptoms and inflammation. Perceived stress and depressive symptom questionnaires were obtained before each 2-week study period. Online diary entries documenting same-day allergy flares, stressful events, perceived stress, mood, and salivary cortisol levels were collected daily during 2 14-day blocks.

Results: Thirty-nine percent of subjects (n = 69) self-reported allergy symptoms. This allergy flare group had higher perceived stress scores than the group without allergy symptoms. Perceived stress, but not depressive symptoms, positively correlated with allergy flares evaluated during 2 independent 14-day periods. There also was a positive relation between negative mood scores and allergy flares over the course of the study. Cortisol had no association with allergy symptom flares.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that individuals with persistent emotional stress have more frequent allergy flares. Furthermore, those with more flares have greater negative mood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / epidemiology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / psychology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / epidemiology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Biomarkers
  • Hydrocortisone