Changes in Allergies, could it be Menopause?

November 04, 2022.

It is estimated over 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergies. Over half of those afflicted are women.  Allergies and their symptoms range from itchy eyes/nose, and nasal congestion which is commonly associated with hay fever, to abdominal pain and vomiting most commonly from food allergies, as well as rashes, hives, and life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Many individuals report changes in their allergy symptoms throughout their lifespan.  For women, as if there are not enough changes going on in our bodies during perimenopause, surprise! Our allergies can change too.

See the 34 Symptoms of Menopause Here

Ideally, the change would mean they would magically disappear, but if you have landed on an article about allergies and menopause, signs point to that has not been your experience.

How can perimenopause and having to avoid my neighbor’s house with cats (due to allergies) be connected?

Well, please continue.

In short, our immune system is connected to hormone levels including progesterone and estrogen. We need a healthy balance of both hormones. Perimenopause sends these two hormones out of balance, and subsequently, our immune system response changes. Allergies, asthma, and hay fever, all fall in a similar category characterized by immune response overactivity.

  • Progesterone supports anti-inflammatory efforts in your body and thus low levels negatively impact an overzealous immune system response.
  • High levels of estrogen are associated with increased production of histamine (an immune chemical that protects the eyes and nasal passage) and produce more allergy symptoms.

During perimenopause, these levels fluctuate resulting in changes to allergy symptoms.  You could experience menopause allergies increasing, or even new symptoms like menopause hay fever when you have never experienced it before.

Okay, enough with the gloom.

You do not have to avoid your neighbor with the cats like the plague (unless you want to).

There are many ways to manage these symptoms.

Track your symptoms

  • Many women experience irregular menstruation during perimenopause. During our cycle, there are fluctuations in hormones. Allergy symptoms could correlate so it is a good idea to track symptoms in relation to our menstrual cycle.
  • For menopause and food allergies (nausea, bloating, cramping, diarrhea), track symptoms as well as food intake to identify connections.
  • Be mindful of the presence of allergens and track symptoms.

Familiarize with triggers and decrease exposure

  • Take note of any new symptoms and triggers and do your best to minimize exposure. This could be environmental or chemical.
  • Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, and insect stings. Three allergens listed can be minimized by ensuring your home is properly cleaned regularly, using hypoallergenic linen, and if needed adding an air purifier to your home. 
  • For others decreased exposure may be the best option. For example, avoid bringing sugary drinks outside in the summer in an effort to avoid attracting bees.

Talk to your Doctor

  • For menopause allergy symptoms, there are both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescribed medications that aid in symptom management. Many OTC allergy medications can have a side effect of drowsiness so make sure you read the label to check for this.
  • You can get tested for new allergies
  • If you are already taking HRT, notify your doctor about your changes in allergy symptoms. Studies have found an increase in asthma symptoms for women taking HRT and some have reported an HRT allergy. This treatment can be effective for many of the symptoms of perimenopause because it treats the hormone imbalance causing the symptoms. It is worth a conversation with your doctor.

Join us at perry

Download the free perr app on android or apple and join our growing community.  You will find a multitude of resources and a supportive community of women on their journey through perimenopause.

References

  1. 50+ Million Americans Suffer from Allergies Each Year – Advancing Your Health
  2. Progesterone as an Anti-Inflammatory Drug and Immunomodulator: New Aspects in Hormonal Regulation of the Inflammation – PMC (nih.gov)
  3. Histamine and histamine intolerance | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Oxford Academic (oup.com)
  4. Allergies – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
  5. Prospective study of postmenopausal hormone use and newly diagnosed asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – PubMed (nih.gov)

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Lisa Spano RN BSN

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