Allergic rhinitis or Hay fever is a very common problem which affects many people worldwide (causes & treatments explained). It is basically an allergic response or hypersensitivity reaction taking place in some people due to exposure to harmless substances like pollen, dander, dust etc.
WHOM DOES IT AFFECT :
As mentioned, it affects many people. But there are certain known trigger factors which predispose a person to develop chronic allergic rhinitis
- People suffering from atopic asthma
- People suffering from atopic eczema
- People working in mines or dusty atmosphere
- Gardeners exposed to pollen
- Exposure to strong chemicals or fumes
- Wood smokers
- People working in extreme cold temperatures or humid atmosphere
WHAT CAUSES ALLERGIC RHINITIS OR HAY FEVER :
The host defence system consists of white blood cells, antibodies and immunoglobulins. When a potentially harmful substance enters the body, this defence mechanism tries to contain and kill it. In certain people, this immune response is heightened for even harmless substances like dust, pollen etc leading to tissue damage. This exaggerated and inappropriate response is termed as hypersensitivity. It is worthwhile to note that this heightened response occurs only to some substances which would trigger this response (allergen)
When an allergen enters the body, the host immune cells starts releasing high levels of histamine in response to the hypersensitivity to control the allergen. This leads to symptoms of allergy like runny nose, watering of eyes, itching etc.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ALLERGIC RHINITIS OR HAY FEVER :
The most common symptoms are:
- Runny nose
- Watering, itching and redness of eyes
- Sore, scratchy throat
- Mild dry cough
- Stuffy nose
Other symptoms may include :
- Atopic reaction of the skin like itching, redness, dry skin
- Hives or urticaria like symptoms
- Frequent headache and sinus tenderness
DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA FOR ALLERGIC RHINITIS OR HAY FEVER :
Usually, history and clinical examination is enough to diagnose it. But occasionally, in chronic allergies, your doctor may advise you to undergo a few blood tests :
- Skin prick test – Your doctor places several substances onto your skin to see how your body reacts to each one. Usually, a small red bump appears if you’re allergic to a substance.
- Immunological E levels – IgE is elevated in allergies. This test measures the amount of immunoglobulin E antibodies to particular allergens in your blood.
ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT APPROACH FOR ALLERGIC RHINITIS OR HAY FEVER :
Treatment approach in Allopathy focuses mainly on suppressing the histamine reaction and by modifying the immune system to these allergens. Common medicines used are :
- Antihistamines eg fexofenadine, cetrizine, levocetrizine
- Decongestants eg phenylephrine
- Eye drops and nasal sprays
- Corticosteroid treatment
WHAT DOES HOMEOPATHY HAVE TO OFFER FOR ALLERGIC RHINITIS :
There are several reasons to use homeopathy for allergic rhinitis. Firstly they are free from side effects of antiallergic remedies like lethargy, sleepiness etc. Secondly they do not have to be taken for a very long period of time. Constitutional medicine can be given at the start of the treatment process and further during the hay fever season, additional doses can be prescribed depending on the symptoms.
For chronic allergies or perennial hay fever, it is always best to use constitutional homeopathic remedies instead of the acute ones. The reason for it is that in chronic cases there has to be an underlying cause to trigger this response, not just the allergen. But for acute cases or seasonal hay fever cases, acute specific remedies can be used.
The primary homeopathic remedies used are:
- EUPHRASIA : Eye symptoms predominate. Profuse bland coryza with profuse acrid lachrymation. Burning and swelling of eyelids. Bursting headache with dazzling of eyes.
- ALLIUM CEPA : Sneezing constant when entering a warm room. Copious, watery, acrid nasal discharge with profuse bland lachrymation. Burning in the nose. Hay fever like symptoms. Ticking sensation in larynx. Bouts of cough on inspiring cold air. Pain in mid chest which oppresses breathing
- SABADILLA : Spasmodic sneezing with runny nose. Eyelids red, burning. Lachrymation. Coryza, with severe frontal pains and redness of eyes and lachrymation. Copious, watery, nasal discharge. Incessant sneezing due to strong smells. Tickling in throat as if from skin hanging loose, must swallow constantly.
- ARSENICUM ALBUM : Thin, watery, excoriating discharge from nose. Nose feels stopped up. Sneezing without relief. Hay-fever and coryza; worse in open air; better indoors. Burning and bleeding. Burning in eyes, with acrid lachrymation. Intense photophobia. Burning in throat unable to swallow. Profound weakness with increased thirst and restlessness.
- NATRUM MURIATICUM : Violent, fluent coryza, lasting from one to three days, then changing into stoppage of nose, making breathing difficult. Discharge thin and watery, like raw white of egg. Violent sneezing coryza. Lachrymation, burning and acrid. Lids swollen. Eyes appear wet with tears. Tears stream down face on coughing
- SANGUINARIA CANADENSIS : Hay-fever. Ozæna, with profuse, offensive yellowish discharges. Nasal polypi. Coryza, followed by diarrhœa. Chronic rhinitis; membrane dry and congested. Headache which settles in right side over the eyes.
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