Seasonal allergies are awful, and can make you feel like you should buy stock in Sudafed and Kleenex. Allergies can be part of our genetic heritage (thanks, mom!) poor air quality (thanks Arizona) or other factors, but most people don’t know that hormone imbalance can also cause allergies in women.
As a doctor specializing in Internal Medicine and Hormonal Health, I see a lot of women in perimenopause (the period leading up to menopause) or menopause struggling with allergies, many for the first time in their lives. If you’re getting more frequent upper respiratory and sinus infections, the culprit may be estrogen.
Estrogen plays a key role in our body systems, but it’s especially vital for good respiratory function. As estrogen levels fall, the mucus membranes in our body thin out and dry up. That’s why women in perimenopause or menopause begin to experience vaginal dryness. So it makes perfect sense that the mucus membranes in our lungs also become thinner and dryer. This allows more allergens and infectious agents to enter our bodies through the dry, cracked layers and irritate our lungs and sinuses. Voila, allergies!
If you’re a woman in perimenopause, you may already be experiencing other symptoms of estrogen deficiency, like hot flashes, night sweats, mood disorders, vaginal dryness, urinary tract infections, and memory loss or brain fog. Increased allergies are just the cherry on top. Over the counter and prescription medicines that contain nasal steroids and moisturizing agents or natural therapies like neti pots can help control your allergy symptoms, but they won’t address the root cause.
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy may help ease undesirable symptoms like allergies and vaginal dryness, and get you back on track. Get your hormone levels checked, and find out if HRT can help you.