Hay fever, more properly called allergic rhinitis, is an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways. It occurs when an allergen such as pollen or dust is inhaled by an individual with a sensitized immune system, and triggers antibody production.
To explain this more simply, consider that your nose acts as a filter. The tiny hairs and mucus that line the nasal passages trap dust, pollens and other microscopic particles. A person with hay fever is allergic to some of the particles that get trapped in the nose, such as pollen.
An “allergic reaction” simply means that the immune system treats a harmless substance as if it were dangerous, and launches an ‘attack’. In the case of hay fever, as a protection measure, the nasal passages become inflamed and more mucus is produced.
Hay fever is more common in spring because it is often caused by an allergy to grass pollen. Hay fever though can occur at any time of the year as an allergic reaction to dust mites, mould and animal fur or hair.
The two categories of allergic rhinitis include:
- Seasonal—occurs particularly during pollen seasons. Seasonal allergic rhinitis does not usually develop until after 6 years of age.
- Perennial—occurs throughout the year. This type of allergic rhinitis is commonly seen in younger children.
Symptoms most commonly include a running nose, sneezing and itchy, watering eyes. Other symptoms include blocked nose, red eyes and swollen eyelids, itchy eyes, ears and throat, headaches.
It is estimated approximately one in three people have an active allergy at any given time, and that 10-25% of the populations are affected by this allergy annually.
Hay fever is triggered by the pollens of specific seasonal plants and although the list is long, most cases (about 90%) are allergic to grass pollen.
Allergy testing may reveal the specific allergens an individual is sensitive to. Skin testing is the most common method of allergy testing. This may include intradermal, scratch, patch, or other tests.
Antihistamines, steroids or decongestants are used by medicine, for hay fever treatment however these are riddled with side effects.
Natural medicine uses anti allergic, anti congestion and anti inflammatory herbs, as well as homeopathic preparations and nutritional supplements. We have been using these approaches in our clinic for a number of years now with great success.
Other measures one can take to reduce symptoms:
- Check the pollen count forecast. Try to stay indoors if it’s a high count.
- Stay indoors as much as possible in spring, on windy days or after thunderstorms.
- In your garden, choose plants that are pollinated by birds or insects, rather than plants that release their seeds into the air.
- Replace your lawn with bricked or paved areas.
- Smear petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) inside your nose to stop the pollen from touching the lining of your nose.
- Avoid areas where lawns are being mowed and where possible leave the area when this needs to happen.
- Splash your eyes often with cold water to flush out any pollen.
- Perennial allergic rhinitis occurs all year round.
- Avoiding your triggers is the best way to reduce the frequency of hay fever attacks
Some of the common natural substances we use for hay fever are Horseradish, Fenugreek, Golden Rod, Vitamin B5, Vitamin C complex, Vitamin E.
However for greatest effectiveness, these need to be provided in the right dosage and the right concentration for the individual. Quality is as important as the remedy itself in any prescription of natural medicines.
The advantage we have at our clinic is that we can combine a number of effective herbs in liquid form and add some important nutrients such a C complex vitamin, depending as always on the individual’s needs. We have found this to be very effective in many cases.