Acupuncture for hay fever

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Hayfever is one of the commonest allergies affecting a massive 12 million people in the UK.
The name is somewhat misleading; it is not caused by hay, but by pollens from wind-pollinated grasses, trees, and weeds, and spores from fungi.
At worst, it makes spring and summer months a misery.
Many people experience symptoms similar to hay fever all year round.
Doctors call this perennial rhinitis. Although symptoms affecting the eyes are unusual, sufferers have persistent attacks of sneezing and permanent runny nose.
This allergy is frequently mistaken for the permanent 'cold' and children especially may be wrongly prescribed repeated courses of antibiotics. Frequent causes are mould and house dust mite,animal hair, latex, cleaning agent and other chemicals.

Allergic reactions such as hay fever happen when the immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance.
This triggers the production of an antibody called immunoglobulin E or IgE. IgE causes the release of some highly irritating substances, including histamine, which produce redness, heat and swelling (inflammation).
The most common symptoms are sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath, a runny or blocked-up nose, watery and bloodshot eyes, rash, itchiness, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Health complications from repeated hay fever attacks, year after year, may be an even more serious problem. Chronic sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinus cavities is one of these complications. Another is nasal polyps. In addition, a significant percentage of people with hay fever have or develop asthma.

Hay fever and cross reactivity:
Those with pollen allergies are susceptible to cross-reactive foods. This occurs when the over active immune system cannot distinguish the difference between pollen proteins and food proteins.
When the immune system recognizes a “cross-reactive” protein, symptoms manifest.
Here are a few examples of cross reactivity:
Alder Pollen - almonds, apples, celery, cherries, hazel nuts, parsley, peaches, and pears.
Grass Pollen - melons, oranges, swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelons and wheat.
Lily: Asparagus, Chives, Garlic, Leek, Onion.
Conventional treatment for hay fever:

Conventional treatment is mainly symptomatic:
Antihistamines ease most of the symptoms, but are not so good at relieving nasal congestion and may cause drowsiness.
Decongestant nose sprays which you can buy at pharmacies are not usually advised for more than a few days.
They have an immediate effect to clear a blocked nose.
However, if you use a decongestant nose spray for more than 5-7 days, a 'rebound' more severe congestion of your nose may develop.

Why are hay fever and allergies so common today?

Quite simply, we don't know; but it is thought that the immune system may be more likely to produce allergic reactions because far fewer people today develop infectious diseases like mumps or measles

Hay fever and allergies have increased by four times in the last 20 years.

Self help for Hay fever:
As a rule pollen levels are highest in the morning and early evening, but weather conditions make an enormous difference to pollen levels - hot dry weather or wind increase levels, whereas rain washes pollen out of the air.
When pollen is high, keep windows in both cars and buildings shut, and avoid being outdoors, particularly in grassy spaces. When you do go outside, wear sunglasses, and wash your hair afterwards.
Never mow the lawn if you are allergic to grass pollen or the mould that grows on grass, and avoid smoky atmospheres as they can make symptoms worse.

Alternative medicine is often very effective in treating hay fever and other allergies

Acupuncture: beside rapid symptom relief, acupuncture can bring long term improvement.

Homeopathic remedies for allergic rhinitis include: Allium cepa, Euphrasia, Pusatilla, Nux vomica.

Herbal supplements for allergic rhinitis include chamomile, Echinacea, Goldenseal, cleavers, elderberry , and eyebright .

Allergy test is to be recommended as hay fever sufferers are often sensitive to other allergens, and cross reactivity with certain foods can aggravate or prolong their symptoms.