Hay Fever's Link To Mental Health Issues Examined

By Kelly Burch 08/06/18

Researchers examined the link between hay fever and depression in adolescents for a study.

man blowing nose into tissue.

For many people, itchy eyes, sneezing and a scratchy throat are a right of passage every spring as the flowers bloom and the pollen begins to blow.

However, although it might be common, one report found that hay fever is linked to depression and anxiety in adolescents.

A review published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology looked over 25 studies of individuals with hay fever, concentrating on patients who were between the ages of 10 and 19. The review found that adolescents with hay fever had a lower quality of life than other teens, were more likely to have their sleep and routines disrupted, and have academic consequences.

“Although [hay fever is] sometimes perceived as trivial conditions, this review indicates that [the] effect on adolescent life is negative and far-reaching,” the authors wrote. “It is critical that clinicians gain a greater understanding of the unique burden of [hay fever] in adolescents to ensure they receive prompt and appropriate care and treatment to improve clinical and academic outcomes.”

“The emotional burden of hay fever can be huge for adolescents," lead study author Dr. Michael Blaiss told Medical News Today. "Three of the studies in our review examined how adolescents are emotionally affected by hay fever [...] 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. [They] also exhibited more hostility, impulsivity, and changed their minds often.” 

Blaiss pointed out that adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the effects of disruption to their sleep. 

"Lack of sleep or poor sleep are both huge issues for adolescents, and it can be made worse by the symptoms of hay fever with or without eye allergies,” he said. “Poor sleep can have a negative impact on school attendance, performance, and academic achievement.”

Between 15 and 38% of teens have hay fever, so understanding the social and emotional consequences is important for public health. It’s also important economically, since millions of doctors visits and sick days are caused by hay fever each year.

Researchers also pointed out that teens might have their hay fever present differently from younger children or from adults. For example, teens are more likely to say that itchy eyes or sneezing is their most pressing symptom.

However, symptoms like snoring at night and night waking are the cause for the most concern, since they can lead to sleep disruption. 

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Kelly Burch Contrib.jpg

Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.