Sneezy & The Brain
by Andrea Jervinis, LAT, ATC
Spring is here and so is the peak of allergy season. Everything is blooming and even though the warm weather is calling your name to go outside, your body’s histamines have got you blowing your nose, sneezing, and itching all over. Your senses suffocate. Every breath feels like a battle against the congested blockade of an unseen force. This can really dampen your mood, especially for some industrial athletes who are working indoors all week and want to have some fun in the sun. Last month we spoke about the benefits of spending time outdoors, but allergies may dissuade you from them especially if they make you feel crummy.
Review Your [Allergy] Hazards
Allergies are an immune response and trigger the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, when the body encounters something it sees as harmful. As we’ve learned to stay away from a flame because it can burn and hurt you, it makes sense we would avoid our allergens. In fact, one of the most common pieces of advice a person with allergies is given is to stay away from allergens. In this way, our allergies may be keeping us inside and away from reaping the health benefits of the outdoors.
Do Allergies Affect Mental Health?
The answer is yes, most likely! Studies show a link between those with allergies and a higher occurrence of being diagnosed with a mental disorder (such as depression, eating disorders, and anxiety). More studies are needed to fully understand the link. Regardless, it is something to be aware of and can bring insight into how to help ourselves. In fact, doctors recommend those with diagnosed anxiety and known allergies to not ignore their allergy symptoms. Treating anxiety while ignoring allergy symptoms actually makes anxiety treatment more difficult! Another study shows treating allergies may lessen the relationship between mental health disorders and allergies.
If you are reading this and making the connection between your behavior and your allergies, then now would be a good time to talk to your doctor and/or an allergist about a plan to help your symptoms. Allergy treatment can range from taking antihistamines to receiving allergy shots. The best way to know how to address your allergies is to have a discussion with your doctor.
Other Ways to Reduce Allergy Symptoms:
– Take a shower every night before bed and/or after spending time outside to remove pollen.
– Wash bed sheets regularly.
– Go outside later. Pollen counts are usually highest early in the morning.
– Close doors and windows at night.
– Do saline nasal rinses.
– Keep the air indoors dry and clean. Use a dehumidifier and air filters.
Andrea Jervinis, LAT, ATC || Andrea has been a Certified Athletic Trainer for 13 years with experience in multiple settings. She brings her sports medicine experience to various trades in Northern Nevada, which she absolutely loves and calls home even though she’s allergic to almost everything native to the area.
Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips for the industrial athlete from Work Right NW!