Both caused by allergies to airborne irritants, but whereas hay fever is mainly a summer ailment, allergic rhinitis occurs all the year round; often aggravated by some form of food Allergy. In both conditions there is usually a family history of Asthma or Eczema. Grass, tree, and flower pollens, and mould spores from trees, are the culprits in hay fever; in allergic rhinitis the range of irritants is much wider - hair, skin, fur, feathers, house dust, house dust mites, cigarette smoke, various smells.
The body over-reacts to some or all of these, producing histamine which draws fluid to the site of the ‘attack’, causing redness, warmth, swelling, itching, and tickling. Eyes and nose are affected most, but lips, ears, throat, and lungs can also be involved. Repeated sneezing is not only very tiring, but can aggravate Stress Incontinence. Skin tests may enable your medical doctor to pinpoint the substances you are allergic to, but skin reactions become less and less reliable the more allergies you have.
Conventional treatments include antihistamines, which block the action of histamine, but some can cause drowsiness and can increase the effects of alcohol; decongestants, which can damage the nasal membranes is used for any length of time; steroid nasal sprays, which reduce inflammation; and desensitizing injections, which eventually switch off the body’s reaction to a particular allergen, but which have also been known to cause anaphylactoid Shock or lead to full-blown asthma; for this reason, such injections are no longer given by medical doctors and nowadays only rarely by allergy clinics in hospitals. In extreme cases, a helmet can be worn; this fits completely over the head and filters all the air the person breathes; it is effective, but cumbersome.
The homeopathic view of hay fever and allergic rhinitis is that they are deep-seated conditions which require, in the first instance, constitutional treatment; hay fever in particular may take two or three seasons to cure. Nosodes of pollens and other allergens can also be given as preventatives. In acute episodes, however, the following remedies are recommended.
Specific remedies to be taken as often as necessary for up to 10 doses
- Thick, honey-coloured discharge from nose following three or four days of sneezing, sore nostrils and burning sensation inside nose, warmth makes symptoms worse, burning throat, irritating cough, skin dry and scaly, person worried or anxious Arsenicum iod. 30c
- Temperature higher than normal, person utterly worn out but feels better for warmth, sniffing warm water up nose gives some relief from sneezing, light hurts eyes, wheezing and tightness in lungs, burning throat, restlessness, worry Arsenicum 30c
- Early in hay fever season, tickly nose and sneezing but no discharge, roof of mouth and ears very itchy Arundo 30c
- Non-stop sneezing, eyes heavy, puffy, and watering, person apathetic, listless, feels dizzy and shaky Gelsemium 30c
- Burning discharge from nose, bland discharge from eyes, symptoms worse indoors than out of doors, light hurts eyes, larynx feels as if there are hooks sticking into it, made worse by warm food or drinks Allium 30c
- Thick, burning discharge from eyes, which are very swollen, bland discharge from nose, coughing up phlegm, symptoms worse indoors Euphrasia 30c
- Violent sneezing, watering eyes, eyelids red and swollen, headache which feels as if head is shrinking, thinking dull and slow, sore throat soothed by warm drinks, feeling generally chilly Sabadilla 30c
- Eyes smarting and very sensitive to light, stuffy nose and obstructed breathing, itchiness inside ears and Eustachian tubes, general irritability Nux 30c
- Person very sensitive to cold, wants to lie down, nose streaming, nasal discharge bland or burning, breathlessness relieved by raising arms away from body Psorinum 30c
- Bland, yellow discharge from nose and eyes, better in open air, especially if person is of a tearful disposition Pulsatilla 30c
- Stuffed up nose, especially on waking in morning, sinuses feel tender, general chilliness Silicea 30c
- Constant sneezing, stuffy or streaming nose, eyes swollen and watering, all made worse by being out of doors or in damp atmosphere, smelling new-mown hay, or becoming chilled after exertion Dulcamara 30c
- Chronic rhinitis, nasal membranes dry and congested, nasal polyps Sanguinaria 30c
- Rhinitis associated with asthma Arsenicum iod. 30c, Kali iod. 30c, Sabadilla 30c, Iodum 30c, or Arsenicum 30c
- Rhinitis made worse by warm rooms, warm clothes, or bodily exertion Silicea 30c, Pulsatilla 30c, or Carbo veg. 30c
- Stuffy nose, constant desire to blow nose although blowing does not relieve stuffiness Lachesis 30c, Kali bichrom. 30c, Psorinum 30c, Naja 30c, or Sticta 30c
- Early hay fever symptoms Arundo 6c or Wyethia 30c
Self-help: Avoid known irritants if at all possible. Wash dogs once a week; their dander can cause irritation and washes out easily. Keep cat flaps closed when it rains. Small animals should be housed outside or in a shed. Don't allow animals in bedrooms. If you suffer from hayfever, keep track of the pollen count and take preventive measures.
Anyone whose hay fever is really bad at night and first thing in the morning should consider fitting air filters over open windows and fireplaces, and fitting efficient draught excluders to doors; filters can be made quite inexpensively by sandwiching a layer of cotton wool between two layers of fine-mesh gauze stretched across a wooden frame. Unfortunately very few makes of car have filtered air inlets, but filters are not difficult or expensive to fit yourself.
To stop your nose becoming dry and sore, rub a little Vaseline inside each nostril several times a day, or put 2 drops of Pure Almond oil inside each nostril once a week. Most hay fever sufferers find that direct sunlight tends to hurt their eyes, or give them a headache, or make their skin itchy, so if you must go out in the sun wear sunglasses and a hat which shades your face.
Blow your nose gently - hard blowing only bursts the offending grains of pollen and increases their irritant effects. Avoid contact lenses during summer months. Try to eat a diet which is 50 per cent raw salads and fruit, and reduce the amount of sugar you eat. Some sufferers find extra Vitamin C and magnesium helpful.