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What Is Hay Fever?
The word 'allergy' means an altered or abnormal body tissue reaction after exposure to a substance (known as an antigen or 'allergen'). The allergic reaction occurs if the body tissues are sensitive to the allergen.
Hay fever is an allergy to dust, pollen or dander in the air. It mainly causes allergy to the eyes and nose. Hay fever is seasonal; however it can last throughout the year if the allergens are present in the air throughout the year. Spring and fall are the two main seasons for hay fever.
Symptoms of Hay Fever
Hay fever symproms include the following: Headache, Itching of nose, mouth, eyes, throat, ear and skin, Red and watery eyes, Runny and stuffy nose, Impaired smell, Sneezing, Sore throat, Wheezing
Cause of Hay Fever
The body's immune system is designed to fight harmful substances like bacteria and viruses. But in allergic rhinitis, the immune system overresponds to substances that are harmless to most people -- like pollen, mold, and pet dander -- and launches an assault. This attack is called an allergic reaction. In an allergic reaction, substances called histamine (among other chemicals) are released. Histamines contribute to the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis is caused by an allergic reaction to pollens and spores (depending on the season and area) as they are carried on the wind. Common sources include ragweed - the most common seasonal allergen, grasses, trees and fungus (mold growing on dead leaves) .
Year-round allergic rhinitis is caused by an allergic reaction to substances such as airborne particles from animal dander (skin flakes), dust and household mites, cockroaches and molds growing on wall paper, house plants, carpeting, and upholstery.
Treatment for Hay Fever
People who develop allergic rhinitis in warm weather, windy conditions or at spring time are generally allergic to grass, tree and flower pollens. Those who have this reaction all year round are probably also allergic to house dust, mold or animal dander. The first avenue for treatment then is to identify the offending allergen and avoid it if at all possible.
Avoidance is not always practical however. Antihistamines can be very effective in preventing or reducing the allergic reaction. Antihistamines can also help to prevent the illness cycle that arises due to frequent allergic attacks.
Nasal decongestants are another popular choice and are applied directly into the nasal passages with a spray, gel, drops, or vapors. They are available as long-acting (6 to 12 hours) or short-acting, work faster than oral decongestants and with fewer side effects. However with extended use, nasal decongestants can cause the nasal passages to swell, and this can begin a cycle of dependency.
There are a number of herbal and homeopathic remedies available for the treatment of hay fever. Many herbs contain highly active compounds that in many cases work as well as conventional drug therapy.
Natural Home Remedies
Quercetin is a well known flavonoid, usually found mostly in onions and apples and is considered to be a 'building block' for other flavonoids. Dietary flavonoids are important and powerful anti-oxidants found in fruits, vegetables and herbs and can also boost immunity, strengthen blood vessels and improve circulation. Quercetin inhibits the production and release of histamine -- a substance that contributes to allergy symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as a runny nose and watery eyes. Other benefits include healthy circulation and the maintenance of stable blood sugar levels.
Euphrasia officinalis (Eyebright) has been used since the Middle Ages to keep eyes healthy and bright. It may be used topically, but is very beneficial taken internally. Other benefits include the maintenance of good vision and eye health.
Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine includes the following as uses for Eyebright: Conjunctivitis, red eye, stye, itching and stinging in eyes, hay fever, chronic sneezing and inflammed nasal mucosa.
1 teaspoon for 1 cup of boiling water; 3 times daily. Or use to bathe sore eyes or sniff to soothe nasal mucosa.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) has been traditionally used to treat asthma and bronchitis and to reduce mucus. A recent study of 125 people with hay fever found that an extract of this herb was as effective and less sedating than cetirizine, a commonly prescribed non-sedating antihistamine. The study lasted only 2 weeks, and while it shows promise, it is not known what would be the effect of using butterbur over a longer time period.
Several test tube and animal studies suggest that echinacea contains substances that enhance the activity of the immune system and reduce inflammation. For these reasons, professional herbalists may recommend echinacea to treat allergic rhinitis.
Dose: Tincture: 10 to 30 drops every 2 hours.
Tea: 1 teaspoon for 1 cup of boiling water; 3 to 6 times daily.
Powder: Half a teaspoon with 1 glass of water; 3 to 6 times daily.
Lemon and Honey
Lemon has anti-inflammatroy and astringent properties, meaning it can help soothe and dry up weeping membranes. Honey not only helps to improve the taste, it is believed to have a strong anti-allergy action of its own.
Dose: Add some honey to minced grapefruit and/or lemon. Have this solution - as much as desired - three times a day.
Natural Commercial Remedies
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