Itchy eyes, runny nose, a bit of brain fog…and pelvic floor dysfunction?

If you’re suffering from seasonal allergies, you’re not alone. In 2021, the CDC found that just over a quarter of American adults suffer from seasonal allergies.

Peak pollen season in the northeast begins in early spring and can last well into June. Everyone who considers themselves an allergy sufferer is familiar with the standard symptoms like puffy, red eyes, stuffiness and increased sneezing and coughing, headaches, and more. Most people don’t realize that seasonal allergies can have an effect on the health and function of the pelvic floor as well.

What is pelvic floor dysfunction?

Think of the pelvic floor as a hammock of muscles and ligaments that hangs between the tailbone and the pubic bone. It supports the core and back, as well as the organs that sit in and above the pelvis. When pelvic floor dysfunction happens, the muscles of the pelvic floor become either too tight or too weak, interrupting normal movement. This interruption can lead to weakness or pain in the back, abdomen, buttocks, and thighs, incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and other related symptoms.

Histamines cause allergy symptoms

Histamines naturally occur in the body, and act as a signal, communicating between cells. When the body identifies something as a threat, it produces extra histamines in an attempt to defend itself. This can lead to an increase in inflammation and an allergic response which often manifests itself as increased mucus production and other common allergy symptoms.

Many common conditions worsen when histamine levels are high, including skin disorders like eczema or rosacea, and gastrointestinal disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Celiac disease.

So where do seasonal allergies and the pelvic floor meet?

In addition to the fact that an increase in histamines can worsen existing conditions, coughing and sneezing are a natural response to allergens – and coughing and sneezing put extra pressure on the pelvic floor.

The quick downward movement resulting from a cough or sneeze can direct an unexpected amount of pressure to the pelvic floor, bladder, and urethra. This can cause urine leakage and muscular discomfort. Enough of this increased pressure can result in pelvic floor dysfunction, where the muscles become too loose or too tight and begin to interfere with proper function. 

Avoiding pelvic floor dysfunction in allergy season

There’s no guarantee that seasonal allergies will cause pelvic floor dysfunction, or make an existing issue worse. But if you’re concerned, there are things that you can do to lessen your allergy symptoms and the pressure on your pelvic floor. 

The first is making sure you are properly hydrated. For adults, 8 glasses of water a day is a good target. Good hydration provides your body with the water it needs on a cellular level, as well as helps to avoid constipation, which also puts extra stress on the pelvic floor.

Next up is managing allergy symptoms. This may be accomplished with the use of natural tinctures and supplements, allergy pills, or nasal spray. Be sure to speak to a doctor about appropriate choices for managing your symptoms, even if the medications are over-the-counter.

This may seem like an easy one, but don’t forget to breathe! Practicing diaphragmatic breathing can help relax the pelvic floor, and assist in making sure it is functioning at its best.

And finally, if you are suffering from symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, consider seeing a trained pelvic floor physical therapist. Using a variety of hands-on techniques, your physical therapist will stretch, strengthen, or relax the muscles of the pelvic floor as best suits your condition. Plus, a pelvic floor physical therapist can give personal recommendations for lifestyle and activity, as well as provide instructions for exercises to meet your specific needs.

Body Restoration Physical Therapy

Body Restoration Physical Therapy, located in Roslyn Heights, New York, provides pelvic floor physical therapy to many Long Island patients. Through a combination of approaches including hands-on therapy and education, pelvic floor dysfunction sufferers find relief from their symptoms. 

Pelvic floor physical therapy can be invaluable before and after childbirth, after injury or surgery, or when noting incontinence, sexual dysfunction, or pain/weakness in and around the pelvic area. Contact Body Restoration Physical Therapy today to learn more.