Allergies can affect adults as well as children and the incidence of allergic diseases is on the rise dramatically.
Allergic rhinitis, generally known as hay fever, results in a type of inflammation in the nose when you breathe in certain allergens. Allergic rhinitis is seasonal, usually not severe, non-life-threatening, and can be treated with simple medications and remedies.
An allergy occurs when you react to substances in the environment that are harmless to most people. These substances that are recognized by the immune system and cause a reaction are known as allergens.
The immune system protects your body from outside invaders. These include germs (such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi) and toxins (chemicals made by microbes). Your immune system is made up of different organs, cells, and proteins that work together. Dust mites, pollen, ticks, and molds are common allergens that can cause allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis can also be triggered by indoor pollens such as saliva on pet dander, mold, urine, dried flaky skin, etc.
Cause of Inflammation in Allergic Rhinitis
Your nasal passage is a channel of airflow through the nose. The walls of your nasal passages are coated with mucous membranes, which contain tiny hair-like cells that are responsible for the movement of mucus (a normal, slippery, and stringy fluid in the nose) towards the throat.
When you come in contact (breath in) with certain allergens like pollen from flowering or wild plants, weed, pet dander, dog fleas, or mold, the membranes lining your nasal passages become swollen, inflamed, and irritated.
As a result, your inflamed tissues begin to produce more mucus to flush out the allergens that cause the irritation. This build-up of mucus makes you feel stuffed up, leading to nasal congestion and postnasal drip.
Allergic rhinitis can last several weeks, longer than a cold or the flu. It generally does not cause fever. It can be accompanied by:
Clear watery nasal discharge
Itching and watering of eyes
Postnasal drip (When your nose or your sinuses produce extra mucus and it drips down from the back of the throat)
Loss of sense of smell, mainly due to a blocked or congested nose
An interesting symptom of allergic rhinitis is reduced appetite due to the change in the flavor of your food. This happens because the flavor of your food arises out of a combined ability to smell and taste; loss of sense of smell also affects the taste perception of the food you eat.
Diagnosis of Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is simple to diagnose and treat. If left untreated, apart from days lost to suffering, the allergy may reach the lungs and cause Bronchial Asthma (a condition in which your airways to the lungs swell and narrow) or lead to complications like nasal polyps (noncancerous growths in the lining of your nasal passage) or sinusitis (infection in your sinuses). Sinuses are air-filled sacs (4 in number) present in your facial bones.
Allergic rhinitis can be treated through various home remedies. The best natural remedy for allergies is to avoid allergens as much as possible. Both doctors and natural healers will suggest that you limit or avoid allergens, which are what causes your allergic reaction.
1. Do saline nasal irrigation. Nasal irrigation is usually done with saline, which is just a fancy term for saltwater. When rinsed through your nasal passages, saline can wash away allergens, mucus, and other debris, and help to moisten the mucous membranes.
Stand with your head over a sink or in the shower and tilt your head to one side.
Using a squeeze bottle, pour or squeeze the saline solution slowly into the upper nostril.
Allow the solution to pour out your other nostril and into the drain. Breathe through your mouth, not your nose, at this time.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Try not to let the water go down the back of your throat. You may need to adjust your head position until you find the correct angle.
Gently blow your nose into a tissue when you’re done to clear out any mucus.
2. Use air purifiers. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are a type of mechanical air filter, it works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful allergy-causing particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. You can find HEPA filters in most air purifiers.
3. Eat papaya and pineapples. Papaya and pineapple contain the enzyme bromelain. Natural healers consider bromelain to be effective at improving breathing by reducing swelling. Try to include papaya or pineapple in your diet to reduce the incidence of allergic rhinitis.
4. Include probiotics in your diet. This may help improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis due to their antihistamine action. Antihistamines are used to treat the symptoms of allergies and allergic rhinitis by blocking the action of histamine, a chemical released by the immune system in allergic reactions.
Yogurt and fermented pickles are the most common forms of probiotics that you can eat regularly.
5. Include spirulina in your diet. Spirulina is a blue-green algae, which has antiallergic properties and is protective effects towards allergic rhinitis. Add spirulina powder in your smoothies or juices.
6. Use stinging nettle leaves. Natural healing practitioners suggest stinging nettle as a natural antihistamine to help with allergy treatment. Add leaves to boiling water and let it sit for about 5 to 7 minutes. Strain it and drink it fully. You can also add honey, sugar, etc., as per your taste.
7. Add quercetin to your diet. Quercetin (a plant pigment) stabilizes the release of histamines and helps to control allergy symptoms. It’s naturally found in broccoli, cauliflower, green tea, and citrus fruits.
8. Use peppermint and eucalyptus essential oil. This has enough anti-inflammatory effects that reduce the symptoms of bronchial asthma and allergic rhinitis. You can consume peppermint tea or add peppermint oil to your humidifiers.
Eucalyptus essential oil is an antimicrobial agent. You can use eucalyptus oil as a room freshener in oil diffusers.
The most important way to prevent allergic rhinitis is by avoiding the allergens, triggers, or the condition which causes the symptoms. If you have frequent episodes of allergic rhinitis, it might help to:
Keep windows closed, especially during high-pollen seasons (during the months of spring).
Wash your hands immediately after coming home from outside, petting animals, or playing/walking in the garden.
Keep your bedding and mattresses clean. Vacuum them regularly to get rid of dust mites and molds.
Wear glasses, when outside to protect your eyes from dust, pollen, etc.
It is also advisable to stay from factors that can worsen your symptoms such as industrial fumes, tobacco smoke, forest fire smoke, aerosols, cold temperatures, and air pollution. All of these substances or environments can irritate the mucous membrane linings of your nose and cause inflammation, resulting in an allergic reaction.
Remember that hay fever and allergies often run in families. If both of your parents have hay fever or other allergies, you are more likely to have them too. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is usually not severe and can be managed by medications. If your symptoms prolong and do not subside, it is advisable to consult your doctor/ENT specialist immediately.
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