Hay Fever and Allergic Rhinitis Treatments and Relief

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Hayfever and allergic rhinitis can cause misery to millions of people worldwide. In the U.S. it is estimated that as many as 30 million people suffer from these medical condition. My article explores these conditions in detail and lists the main treatments currently available.

What is hay fever and allergic rhinitis?

They are a disorder of the immune system where the body over reacts to harmless substances in the environment such as pollen, dust, mold, danders and food. Allergy producing substances are called allergens.

What causes hay fever and allergic rhinitis?

Allergens cause the activation of a certain type of antibody known as IgE. This antibody triggers the release of certain chemicals from cells in your nose, throat and eyes such as histamine, resulting in an extreme inflammatory response and the associated allergy symptoms. The main causes of allergies are as follows;

Hereditary (runs in the family)
Race
Sex (boys have a higher risk of developing an allergy than girls)
Age
Alteration in exposure to infectious diseases during early childhood
Environmental pollutants
Allergen levels
Dietary changes

What are the symptoms?

Hay fever and allergic rhinitis are the most common types of allergic diseases. Symptoms result from the inflammation of the nasal passages, throat and eyes after inhaling allergens such as pollen, mold, dust etc. The symptoms include;

Runny nose
Nasal congestion
Sneezing
Nasal itching
Itchy ears and throat
Post nasal drip (mucous runs down the back of the throat)
Earache
Sore throat
Sleep disturbances and snoring
Loss of taste and smell
Poor concentration
Headaches
Itchy, sore and puffy eyes

What are the types of treatment available?

OTC anti-inflammatories – Nurofen etc. can relieve inflammation and pain, however they can cause side effects. They are not particularly useful for allergies because they don’t reduce histamine production.

OTC decongestants – OTC decongestants can take the form of tablets, liquids or nasal sprays. Examples of these are Vicks Sinex and Sudafed. These are not really suitable for allergies since they should not be used for a long period of time.

Steroid nasal sprays – Flixonase is useful for allergy sufferers since it can reduce nasal congestion etc. by reducing inflammation. It can however cause side effects.

OTC anti-histamines – Clarytin etc. can be used to reduce histamine production and subsequently allergy symptoms ie. nasal congestion, runny nose etc. They can cause drowsiness and other side effects.

Naturally formulated nasal sprays – SinuSoothe contains natural ingredients that reduce inflammation and the associated symptoms. It also contains an anti-histamine and decongestant therefore it can relieve a runny nose, nasal congestion etc. This can be used daily for an indefinite period of time.

Nasal irrigation and saline nasal sprays – Nasal irrigation and saline nasal sprays such as Sterimar can relieve sinus congestion and get rid of allergens trapped in the nasal cavities. The two types of solution that can be used are isotonic or hypertonic. Isotonic solutions contain a similar salt content to the human body whereas hypertonic solutions contain more salt. It is thought that hypertonic solution are better at reducing inflammation.

Steroid tablets – If you have severe allergies that are seriously interfering with your life (such as at exam times), very rarely your doctor may prescribe you a short course of steroid tablets. They can however cause side effects.

Natural anti-histamines – Butterbur has been proven to be just as effective as OTC anti-histamines. Quercetin is another excellent natural anti-histamine. Unlike OTC anti-histamines there are very littles side effects.

Anti-histamine nasal sprays – Astelin and NasalCrom can reduce the amount of histamine produced in the nasal tissue, therefore they can be effective at reducing nasal symptoms. They can however cause side effects.

Reduce inflammation naturally – Various supplements such as turmeric, ginger, omega oils, serrapeptase etc. can help reduce inflammation naturally and relieve allergy symptoms.

Pollen barriers – Pollen barriers such as petroleum jelly or special barrier gel inside the nostrils can catch pollen before it enters the nasal passages thus relieving hay fever symptoms.

Eye drops – If you suffer from itchy or sore eyes, eye drops that contain anti-histamines or sodium cromoglicate can help. Natural eye drops are also available.

Red light phototherapy – This involves inserting two narrow red light probes in to your nostrils. The light reduces inflammation.

Immunotherapy – This is often a last option. Very small amounts of the allergen you are allergic to is either injected in to your body or ingested in a tablet form, to gradually desensitise your immune system to the allergen. You have to be referred to an allergy clinic in order to receive this treatment.

Prevention of Hay fever

Keeping doors and windows closed when the pollen count is high.
Staying away from areas where there is more pollen such as grass parks, especially in the early morning, late afternoon and evening when the pollen count is highest.
Wearing wrap around sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.
Taking a shower and washing your hair after going outside when the pollen count is high.
Not drying washing outside if pollen counts are high – pollen may get trapped in the fibres of clothes and bed linen.

Prevention of Allergic Rhinitis

The only way to prevent allergic rhinitis is to avoid the allergen that causes it, so allergy testing is important to identify the exact indoor allergen that provokes the allergy.

House dust mite eradication can help if special attention is paid to the bedroom.

Synthetic duvets and pillows are better than feather fills.
Old mattresses harbour up to 10,000 dust mites, so use mite impermeable barrier mattress covers.
Wash pillow cases and covers at 60 degrees centigrade.
Use a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter.
Choose hardwood and laminate flooring, not heavy pile carpets.
Discourage soft toys and clutter.
Regularly air the bedroom to reduce humidity.

For severe pet allergies, unfortunately it’s best to remove the pet from the home permanently. Cat allergen spreads in the air throughout the home, even if the cat is restricted to specific areas. Although short haired and female pets carry less dander on their fur, any furry pets can trigger allergies including rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and mice.

For food allergies it is quite simply a case of eliminating the particular food causing the allergy from your diet. For allergies caused by mold and/or fungus, any signs of these in your home environment should be completely removed. As with all medical conditions you should always consult your doctor before undertaking new treatments.

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Source by Rachel Veronica Scott Ph.D.

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