Hay Fever known in medicine as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic inflammation of the nasal mucosa and nasal airways. Typically, this is due to pollens of any kind of plants, including those used to make hay. The symptoms resemble a cold or flu: stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, nasal inflammation, sinusitis, and breathing problems. Furthermore, there’s an increase in clear watery mucus. Fighting hay fever is not an easy job!
Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction triggered by various allergens like pollen, dust, animal dander, chemicals, and more.
Consequently, when individuals inhale these allergens, a sensitive immune system triggers a reaction. The allergens trigger the production of antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE) in such individuals. This is causing the release of histamines and other chemicals, resulting in the allergic symptoms described above.
Allergies are very common today and increasing each year. Heredity, developing itself in decrease immunity with each generation, and environmental pollution contribute to a predisposition to allergies. Western countries are more affected and the trend is growing.
Hay fever is usually caused by pollen of specific seasonal plants, most common in spring. However, it is not unusual to suffer from hay fever throughout the year. The pollen that causes hay fever varies by regions and between individuals. The most common pollen is tiny and almost invisible. It comes from wind-pollinated plants, not insect-pollinated ones. Those pollinated by insects have large pollens which are not airborne being too heavy.
In Japan, the most common allergic pollen comes from two native tree species: cryptomeria and Japanese cypress. These trees were extensively planted after World War II for reforestation.
In North America, the most common allergic pollen is ragweed, late summer and fall.
What is the treatment in hay fever?… How are allergies diagnosed?
The aim is to prevent and lessen hay fever or allergic rhinitis symptoms. Western medicine lacks a full understanding of the cause of allergic reactions.
The most effective measure, if applicable, is to avoid the allergen. To control symptoms, doctors prescribe intranasal corticosteroids. These can be associated or not with oral antihistamines and decongestants. Medical professionals do not recommend long-term corticosteroid treatment. This is due to the side effects associated with prolonged steroid therapy.
Nasal irrigation with saline solution can aid in removing allergens and clearing nasal passages.
Regarding desensitization, immunotherapy or allergy shots can produce results within a year of consistent administration. However, doctors typically discontinue it if there’s no improvement after five years.
Prolonged aerosol salt therapy has shown desensitization and increased immunity of the respiratory mucosa to allergens. Regularly using home salt therapy, for 7-8 hours daily, greatly improves the respiratory immunity to infections and allergens.
Nasal allergies are chronic and can lead to:
- Recurrent sinusitis
- Nasal passage malformation
- Nasal polyps
- Otitis media and hearing issues
- Orthodontic problems
- Increased risk of developing allergic asthma
This risk arises as sensitivity extends from the nasal passages to the lower respiratory tract.