Hay Fever - In spite of the name, hay fever is neither caused by hay nor associated with fever. It is usually an allergy to pollen released by grasses, flowers and trees in spring and summer. The pollen causes cells to release histamine and other chemicals, resulting in a running, itchy nose; blocked sinuses; sneezing; redness, prickling and watering of the eyes, and/or a sore, itchy throat; and sometimes asthma.
But, hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, as it is medically named, may also be caused by allergy to other things such as house dust, mites, the fur or feathers of animals or birds, or by moulds, plants or chemicals.
What the alternative therapists recommend :
Naturopathy - A practitioner may prescribe vitamin B as a preventive in late spring and early summer. He will also recommend that you cut down on dairy products (cheese, milk and so on) and refined carbohydrates such as sugars. These are all held to encourage excess mucus, and a sensitivity to dairy foods is believed to exacerbate the pollen reaction itself. Large doses of vitamin C - 1 or 2g daily - are prescribed for an antihistamine effect.
Homeopathy - Allium cepa is prescribed for an acute attack, with running eyes and nose, sneezing and sore lips and nose, which is worse indoors and towards evening. For violent, painful sneezing, with a ticklish spot in a running nose, try Arsen. alb.; Sabadilla may be a better choice for an itching, stuffy or running nose, red eyes and frequent sneezing spasms. A practitioner may offer individual treatment in winter to reduce the tendency to hay fever later.
Other alternative treatments :
Acupuncture - The therapist stimulates points on the large intestine
governing lung and spleen meridians.
Hypnotherapy The patient is put in a relaxed state, then instructed in appropriate breathing techniques. Suggestions are made under hypnosis which take effect at times when the patient needs them. Hypnosis has been used to prevent attacks in people susceptible to certain allergies, even though skin tests remain positive (see the page for allergies, link further down below).
Traditional Medicine - Use small lumps of honeycomb as a chewing gum all through the winter and spring. Brewer's yeast tablets taken according to the manufacturer's instructions are said to be beneficial.
An orthodox view of Asthma and the treatment of Asthma - Doctors often prescribe or advise their patients to take antihistamine tablets during the hay fever season. Drowsiness may be a side effect of these and, if so, patients should not drive a car or operate machinery. The regular
use of cromoglycate eyedrops, nasal sprays and/or inhalers, available on
prescription, can also prevent or reduce the allergic response of the body.
Cortisone inhalers and nose sprays can help to reduce inflammation and swelling of the sensitive membranes of the lungs and nasal passages. In severe cases, or when hay fever might interfere with a critical event such as an important examination, a course of cortisone tablets or a long-acting cortisone injection can relieve hay fever symptoms dramatically.
However, steroids such as cortisone should not be used as a routine treatment because of long-term side effects, such as bruising and bone thinning. The side effects depend on how long the particular substance has been taken.
Courses of desensitising injections are no longer given because patients can die from anaphylactic shock, a severe allergic reaction to protein in the injection.
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