Avoid allergies and study better with hypnotherapy

While many of us find studying and exams to be stressful, recent Norwegian research has shown that the impact of hay fever at exam time could be harmful enough to mean that some students might miss out on a university place. Stressed student sitting in a classroom at a table while doing a test

The BBC reported that the study in Norway examined the relationship between pollen levels, hay fever and exam performance. It suggests rising pollen levels could push down results by 10% for hay fever sufferers.

As a result, said report author Simon Sobstad Bensnes, students could be ‘unfairly barred’ from getting into university. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology team examined the impact on hay fever sufferers of taking exams at a time of year when pollen levels are higher.

Using the results of public exams in Norway over three years, Bensnes and the researchers found that on days with high pollen levels exam performance was consistently lower.

The report, presented at the European Economic Association conference in Mannheim in Germany, says hay fever sufferers could be missing out on the grades needed for university and for jobs.

“Increases in pollen counts can temporarily reduce cognitive abilities for allergic students, who will score worse relative to their peers on high stake exams, and consequently be at a disadvantage when competing for jobs or higher education,” said Bensnes.

The study says that the negative impact shown in exam results would be likely to apply to other settings, such as the workplace, where it could lower productivity.

About one in five people are estimated to suffer from hay fever – and the study says that this could be higher among young people, with suggestions that a quarter of young people in Norway are allergic to some extent.

In England’s exam system, pupils who have had serious problems with hay fever on an exam day could ask for this to be taken into account by examiners.

Psychologist John Gruzelier, at Imperial College London and editor of the journal Contemporary Hypnosis, said hypnosis could be an effective medical approach for many ailments. He also suggested that self-hypnotherapy might improve hay fever symptoms by regulating the immune system.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) has qualified therapists across the UK who can offer the self-hypnosis option or offer an MP3 recording specifically tailored to counter or reduce hay fever. They can also deliver effective treatment for stress and anxiety which, in turn, can lessen the onset of hay fever.

A recent study in Switzerland found that hay fever sufferers reported fewer symptoms after they were taught hypnotherapy. Professor Wolf Langewitz, who conducted the study, said that hypnosis could work by altering the speed of blood flow through the tissues in the nose, helping to alleviate stuffiness and congestion.

The Norwegian study raised questions about holding exams in the spring and the early summer, when sufferers are most likely to be affected.

“Holding high-stakes exams during pollen season has a large negative effect on allergic students, who are subsequently unfairly barred from enrolling in the most prestigious universities,” said Bensnes.