THINGS THAT MAKE Allergies Worse

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• Stressful deadlines. In a 2008 experiment, researchers at Ohio State University College of Medicine found that allergy sufferers had more symptoms after they took an anxiety-inducing test, compared with when they performed a task that did not make them tense. Stress hormones may stimulate the production of IgE, blood proteins that cause allergic reactions, says study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD.

GET RELIEF: If you're under stress, get enough sleep A sleep deficit car; worsen both allergy symptoms and stress, she says.

• An extra glass of wine with dinner. Alcohol can raise the risk of perennial allergic rhinitis by 3% for every additional alcoholic beverage consumed each week, Danish researchers found. One potential reason: Bacteria and yeast in the alcohol produce histamines, chemicals that cause telltale allergy symptoms like stuffy nose and itchy eyes.

GET RELIEF: Avoid alcohol when your symptoms are acting up, says Richard F. Lockey, MD, director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

• Waiting too long to take meds. Medications that block histamines work best before you're even exposed to allergens, says allergist James Sublett, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

GET RELIEF: Start medication a couple of weeks before the season commences or before you'll be around allergens (if you react to grass, before a golf game, for example).

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By Lauren Gelman

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