Any real connection between seasonal allergies & inflammatory diseases?
November 8, 2017 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I have bad seasonal allergies, and I live in Austin, where there is literally no time when at least one allergen is not peaking. I also have stage 3 endometriosis, with lesions all over my uterus, ureter, bladder, and probably pouch of Douglas. (It's as fun as it sounds.) I was traveling this weekend and had almost no allergy symptoms and my endo pain was a lot better, too. Is it possible that allergies could increase the endo inflammation?

When I try to research this I get a LOT of complementary medicine articles and general "anti-inflammatory diet" stuff, which doesn't have any scientific backing. Are allergies and inflammatory diseases like endometriosis even the same kind of inflammation? Is there any possible correlation here? Or is it just that one kind of feeling bad makes the other bad feeling worse?
posted by fiercecupcake to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm no expert, but that correlation seems sound and perfectly reasonable to me.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:30 PM on November 8, 2017

I am not a doctor and do not know the science. What I can tell you is my personal anecdote: I spent years thinking that joint pain was a symptom of my seasonal allergies (July flare in the northern US - ragweed, something like that) and that while it wasn't common, this was a thing that was normal. Turns out I have rheumatoid arthritis and every year it does get worse with my seasonal allergies. It will also get worse if I eat certain foods.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:13 PM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, this is my understanding even as a relatively non-woo person who is not super-rabidly into "Inflammation!" as the cause for all things. When my immune system is being ravaged by whatever the hell just blew down here off the mountains two weeks ago, all my other annoying meatcage problems are worse. Makes sense, there's only so much immune system to go around.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:31 PM on November 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Well, allergies are immune overreactions, so if it was a matter of "only so much immune system to go around", you'd expect things to stabilize at about the same max level of annoying regardless of the annoyance-sources, as the immune system runs out of energy or whatnot. So that might not be the trick here.

Wikipedia (I know, I know) mentions that there's "interest" in finding out whether endometriosis has any relation to various immune-related things, including allergies, but the abstract of the one relevant paper that they cited seems to be talking about it more in terms of "people with endometriosis: more likely to have overzealous immune systems? signs point to yes", which still doesn't really answer the question of "but are allergies making the endometriosis worse y/n".
posted by inconstant at 1:44 PM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe try searching for an association with atopic conditions? I was recently told by a doctor that several things that I never thought were related (migraines, allergies, and something else that I can't remember) may be an indication that I had atopic disease.
posted by amarynth at 2:08 PM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

My brother has rheumatoid arthritis, and I have fibromyalgia and migraines, neither of which are endo but both have inflammatory aspects, and we both feel worse in those conditions when our allergies are bad. I'm not a medical person but it seems like a logical correlation to me that adding an additional inflammatory response on top of an already inflammatory condition would aggravate the condition.
posted by dust.wind.dude at 2:35 PM on November 8, 2017

Last time I looked at this there didn’t seem to be a lot of research. Even if there was, these aren’t particularly well understood conditions. Anecdotally, my seasonal allergies fuck everything up for me, and I know other people (women) with poorly understood conditions that involve inflammatory or immune system fuckery who have the same experience. One of them moved; it helped.

If it makes a big difference I wouldn’t wait for science to validate what you’re feeling, bc whooo boy does science have a LOT of making up to do when it comes to women’s health, and you have only one life to live. If it were me I’d try to test it a few more times, and then I’d look into moving north.

(Seasonal allergies still fuck me up in the NE too, but they are at least seasonal, and they’re NOTHING like they are further south.)
posted by schadenfrau at 2:59 PM on November 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Alas, I can't point you to any scientific source, but my IBS- type symptoms are much worse when seasonal allergies peak. I also seem to experience food sensitivities more quickly - I have to avoid tree nuts and anything with orange oil/extract. (For those of you pondering the new Mystery Oreo flavor, I am 100% sure there is orange oil in it gauging by the numbness of my tongue and lips.)
posted by Sweet Dee Kat at 3:25 PM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

When I was on a strict anti-inflammatory diet, my allergies went away almost completely as did my inflammatory skin issues. While I don't have endo, I do think that lowering inflammation by whatever means will help to lower all of it, and raising it by whatever means will have an opposite, global effect.
posted by quince at 3:59 PM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's a high rate of allergies among women with endometriosis.

"Moreover, the excessive and persistent nature of endometriosis-associated inflammation probably contributes not only to initial ectopic endometrial growth, but also to the comorbidities that endometriosis patients frequently exhibit (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, endocrine and autoimmune diseases, allergies and asthma. While it is currently unknown whether the inflammatory nature of endometriosis is a cause or consequence of the disease process, women who develop endometriosis often exhibit a hypersensitivity to inflammation across multiple organ systems."

So yes, I think these conditions are bound up together and can influence one another.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:25 PM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I second what Quince posted. A strict anti-inflammatory diet helps for sure. At the very least it flattens the "peaks".

It does depend on what your system is triggered by. Use the principals of science: hypothesis, isolate and control. With patience and time it is possible to figure out what works and does not individually. Everyone is different and that makes it really hard to prescribe a once size fits all to the matter.

I suggest you look closely at all forms of dairy (casein, whey, etc..), wheat and corn. The sticky triad. Those tend to be typical triggers in my personal experience. And then nightshades would be a secondary consideration depending on the root of the problem.

Good luck!
posted by cookiemaster at 5:41 PM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

When my immune system cratered (Celiac, hypothyroid, fibromyalgia) I also developed severe food allergies I had never had before to walnuts, oranges, and turkey(!?!) I also developed allergies to PPD, a chemical in hair dye, and black rubber mix, which means in practice it’s like I have a latex allergy. (AKA stocking up on polyurethane condoms since it’s rare anyone I hook up with has any.)

As I healed from the celiac my reactions got better. I was on two antihistamines a day for years but I’ve recently been able to discontinue them.
posted by We'll all float on okay at 6:24 PM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

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