Hay fever or allergic rhinitis, is a chronic inflammation of the nose, throat and sinuses. It is induced by external irritants, usually pollens carried in the air. Spring hay fever is related to tree pollen, summer to grass pollen and autumn to weed pollen. Non seasonal allergies are usually due to household irritants such as dust, animal hair, droppings of the house dust mite, mould, mildew, insect stings and bites. People with pollen sensitivities have a hard time as it is difficult to avoid pollen because it is in the air that we breathe.

For many people with hay fever, spring and summer represent a real nightmare. A small number of hay fever sufferers experience symptoms that significantly interfere with everyday life are difficult to control with medication. On average about 1 person in 90 suffers badly enough to consult a doctor, and many other people have the disorder in a milder form. No one knows why certain people are hypersensitive to an otherwise harmless pollen grain or other airborne particles. People who have another allergic condition such as asthma or eczema or if any such conditions run in the family are particularly susceptible. The general increase in conditions such as hay fever and asthma may be related to the increased amount of environmental toxins and polfutants to which we are all becoming more regularly exposed. A combination of pollution in the environment and exposure to household chemicals may weaken the body’s resistance. If this occurs, it lessens the body’s ability to control its response towards allergies.

There are many preparations that can be bought over the counter or with a doctor’s prescription. However, possible side-effects and inconvenience of treatment may be more troublesome than the condition itself. Antihistamine drugs are temporarily effective for relieving hay fever symptoms. However, they should be used sparingly as they tend to dry out the mucous membranes and thereby increase sensitivity to antihistamine. After taking them for more than a month or so, they become less and less effective. The side effects of drowsiness and dryness of the nose and throat may be more troublesome than the hay fever itself. However, they don’t affect the underlying sensitivity. Nose sprays are usually of limited value and their prolonged use may actually cause symptoms or make them worse. All drug treatments merely suppress symptoms and do not alter the basic allergic reaction. Some sufferers of hay fever have ‘desensitisation’ injections. If a skin test has succeeded in identifying the offending substance then the sensitive individual is injected with increasing concentration of the allergen. This usually needs to be done over a period of two years. This treatment sometimes works well, but sometimes does not. Thankfully, acupuncture provides another avenue of relief for hay fever sufferers.

Factors which may lead to weakening of protective Qi include:

  • inherited susceptibility
  • long term use of antibiotics, oral contraceptives and hormones
  • diet rich in sugar, dairy and refined wheat products
  • stress and nervous tension, worry and anxiety
  • childhood immunisations
  • poor breathing habits

Chinese Herbs: are clinically proven in both boosting protective Qi and clearing symptoms. Acupuncture is a very old medical art. It is often associated with pain control but in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader application. The modern scientific explanation is that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the body that influence the body’s own internal regulating system. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities. It can help to strengthen the body’s resistance and can regulate the body’s antigen-antibody’s reactions. This is important in helping to relieve hay fever and other allergic reactions such as asthma.

Dietary Therapy: Adoption of an appropriate diet is an essential foundation. Breathing exercises help to strengthen lungs and decongest nose. These methods will give rapid relief during the hay fever season. Although the most severe cases will need to continue herbal and dietary therapy through the following winter to bring bout lasting improvement.

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