If your allergies or asthma seem to get worse at certain times of the month or with age, blame may lie in hormones.
Studies have shown allergies are often triggered or intensified by natural body transitions and cycles such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Hormonal fluctuations also cause severe asthma attacks in many women, especially older women, usually before or at the onset of menstruation and the risk of severe asthma attacks quadruples at menopause.
progesterone levels rise just before the onset of menstruation and remain high until it ends, and is associated with worsening asthma in up to 40% of women. One study linked the development of allergic asthma and irregular menstrual cycles.
During menopause a woman’s ovaries stop reducing the production of estrogen and progesterone, and this has also been linked to worsening allergies. Some women, however, seen to experience decreases asthma and allergy symptoms with menopause. It seems that women’s bodies can respond to estrogen and progesterone, so that hormonal contraceptives fluctuations can affect existing allergies or asthma differently.
Studies also show that autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, Chron’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and insulin-dependent diabetes are also affected by hormone levels. They are three times more common in women of childbearing age than in the rest of the population.
One reason for hormonally driven fluctuations in allergies and asthma is a reduction of cortisol. When this happens, the body tries to compensate by producing more adrenalin that causes inflammation and therefore, an increase in allergies and asthma.
Low progesterone levels can also increase allergy and asthma, which can too much estrogen (estrogen dominance). That is why estrogen therapy and the Pill are little help, and actually increase asthma. A 2004 Harvard study showed that women taking HRT (which increases estrogen levels) were twice as likely to develop asthma as women not on estrogen. Oral contraceptives, which contain estrogen, found in the 2004 Norwegian study to increase the risk of asthma by 50%.
Natural hormone balance should be considered a key factor in asthma and allergy solutions. Patients hormones are taken in natural balance are often surprised to find that allergies and asthma characteristics are also significantly relieved.
But it is not surprising. Hormones play such an important role in the health of our bodies and immune systems as they are inevitably involved in allergies and asthma, either to increase their severity or help to relieve.