Hay fever could lead to depression


If battling hay fever wasn't bad enough already, new research has discovered that those who suffer from it are four times more likely to develop severe depression. Scientists believe when your blood vessels and tissues become inflamed as an allergic reaction to pollen, it triggers a long-lasting harmful result on your brain. The allergic response causes symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes, which is your body's attempt to remove the cause of the allergy - in this case, pollen.

However, new evidence suggests that suffering from constant low-level inflammation over a period of several months could really affect your mental health.

Scientists at the National Yang-Ming University of Taiwan monitored around 10,000 teenagers with hay fever and 30,000 without it. After almost a decade they noted how many went on to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder - a form of depression often characterised by manic periods followed by extremely low phases. Results, documented in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, showed that teenagers who suffered from hay fever were more prone to being diagnosed as an adult.

Though luckily, scientists believe something as simple as taking ibuprofen could help rather than struggling with the symptoms.

It's unsure how this link came about, though one reason could be that the brain releases substances called pro-inflammatory cytokines. These are proteins which lead to inflammation and trigger the release of a chemical in an attempt to get rid of foreign 'invaders' like pollen. In normal circumstances the inflammation eases once the body is free of the culprit, but if it doesn't, problems occur.

Those who conducted the study are now thought to be planning tests using anti-inflammatory drugs for those patients whose serotonin levels haven't risen with antidepressants. One researcher, Dr Valeria Mondelli, noted that inflammation can in part protect the brain against infection. "But if it is chronic, then it appears to start to damage brain cells," she added.

© Cover Media

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()