Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hayfever is here - but it doesn't need to stay!

It's spring time again... and for those who suffer from hayfever, this time of year can be quite annoying, not to mention downright uncomfortable - stuffy noses, itchy, swollen eyes, sore sinuses, constant sneezing, and sometimes a head that feels like it's wrapped in cotton wool!

Of course, chronic sufferers of hayfever can experience this at any time of year, especially if this is an allergic reaction to allergens such as dust mites, fungal spores, animal dander, or fumes. However for those who react adversely to grasses and pollens, the explosion of plant growth at this time of year (coupled with increased winds) can make things particularly difficult for a short period of time.

Hayfever is essentially the triggering of a hyper-stimulated immune system response by the particular offending allergen, usually inhaled. Histamine is released by the cells bound to the antibodies, which then produces the sneezing, itching, and watery eyes. Hence why anti-histamine is normally prescribed to treat the symptoms. These drugs can be effective at first, but come with the side-effects of drowsiness, dizziness, nervousness, and upset stomachs. More importantly, because they don't address the root of the problems (they just suppress the action of histamine, the body's normal immune response to the present of the allergen), the body can develop a tolerance for the drug, thus essentially rendering them ineffective at controlling the symptoms of hayfever.

Chinese Medicine is very good for hayfever, in that practitioners seek to address the root of the problem - building and strnegthening the immune system - whilst also effectively treating the symptoms without any of the unwanted side-effects.

Acupuncture and herbs can have a very immediate effect on reducing the symptoms of hayfever. Acupuncture is best sought 2-3 times a week  for 1-2 weeks. However, if acupuncture is combined with the appropriate herbal medicine, treatment need only be weekly initially. Herbal medicine is particularly good, as it can be taken only when symptoms appear and stopped when they disappear. It is often handy to have these on hand at home, as long as they have been properly prescribed for you.

In chronic situations, the immediate acute attack is treated in the same way, attacking the symptomatic, immediate condition. However in between attacks (and often in-between 'hayfever seasons') is when a practitioner would seek to enahnce and strengthen your immune system and build up your constitution to enable you to withstand attack from the allergen. When chronic hayfever sufferers undergo this kind of treatment, not only does hayfever often become a thing of the past, but there are usually other health benefits, as the body is brought back into balance, possibly leading to better immunity from colds and 'flu's, more energy, and increased general wellbeing.

Of course, preventative measures can also be taken, and if the allergens are known to be things like dust, moulds, or fumes, then we can take steps to eliminate - or reduce as much as possible - the presence of these. If dust is a problem, for example, it would be a good idea to look at what measures can be taken in the home to minmise this: maybe replacing carpet with floorboards? What is the source of the dust? Is there a lot of loose soil outside the windows, or living on a dusty, unsealed road? Do you have pets? Is it their hair, or skin being left everywhere? If you have birds, how often do you clean the cage out? Are the animals left inside? These are the kinds of things to look at in the home (or workplace) to ensure you can minimise the effects of hayfever.


  1. Hay fever , also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergy reaction in the body that causes nasal airways to become inflamed.

  2. I used to suffer from hay fever and post nasal drip so badly, its difficult. I really want to try your tips.