What is allergic rhinitis?
Allergens are substances that leads to allergic reaction in the body. Allergic rhinitis is a condition characterised with symptoms of allergic response to specific allergens. Generally, the symptoms flare up with the change of seasons. Around 30% of the world population is said to have allergic rhinitis.
Our nasal cavity has various structures that block the passage of foreign matter into the nose. The mucous membrane produces sticky mucus which prevents entry of small particles through the cavity to lungs. When a weak person, with low immunity gets effected, it easily causes irritation and inflammation. Common symptoms are sneezing, running nose, itchy nose, headache and mild fever
There are 2 forms of allergic rhinitis:
- Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- Perennial allergic rhinitis
Seasonal allergic rhinitis occurs during the change of seasons from spring, late summer and fall. These are caused due to pollen or mould spores in the air. It is easily carried through the air and inhaled.
Perennial allergic rhinitis is caused due to allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, or mould. The symptoms may last longer up to a year.
The most common form of allergy is hay fever. They occur seasonally and aggravates when its affected by pollen.
What causes allergic rhinitis?
When body comes in contact with an allergen, it will release histamine. Histamine is a biologically active substance found the blood that defends body from allergens or allergic response. These may cause symptoms like running nose, sneezing, and itching in the eyes.
Common allergens include tree pollen, grass pollen, dust mites, animal dander, mould spores etc. In spring season, flower and tree pollens are most common. Grasses and weeds exert pollen in summer and fall.
What are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis?
Common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:
- Running nose
- Continuous itching in the nose
- Obstruction in nasal passage or blocked nose
- Sore throat
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Frequent headaches
- Excessive fatigue
- Eczema symptoms
Any of these symptoms will immediately happen when coming in contact with allergens. Few symptoms like headache and fatigue happens with long exposure to allergens. In some cases, people experience symptoms very rarely or only if they are exposed to large quantity of allergens.
Risk factors for allergic rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is more common in people who has a family history. Patients suffering asthma or eczema falls in the risk category
Other factors include
- Cigarette smoke
- Exposure to chemicals
- Extreme cold temperatures
- Humid weather
- Air pollution
- Direct exposure to hairspray, Perfumes or any cosmetics
- Wood smoke or fumes
How to diagnose allergic rhinitis?
Minor allergies can be managed with medicines whereas major allergies or allergies that lasts longer needs a better treatment plan. Blood test, skin test and Immunoglobulin (E) antibodies should be tested for particular allergies present in blood.
Allergic rhinitis in Ayurveda
Rhinitis is a common disease of respiratory system. In ayurveda, it is explained under Nasaghata rogas. As per ayurvedic science allergic rhinitis can be compared to Vata-kaphaja Pratishyaya. Ama (undigested food) when generated in the body afflicts the Rasa and Rakta dhatu and leads to the disease Pratishyaya. Virudhha ahara (incompatible food) also leads to allergic symptoms. Clinical features include Tanu nasa srava (running nose), Shirashoola (headache) and Kshavathu (sneezing).
Home remedies for allergic rhinitis:
- Haridra + Saindhava Lavana
In half litre of water add saidhava lavana (10 gms) and 1 teaspoon of Haridra (turmeric) and boil for 10minutes and consume
- Intake of Lavanga(cloves) and Maricha (black pepper) with honey
- Chew garlic or ginger
- Make a bolus of neem and turmeric and consume daily
Ayurveda for Rhinitis
Ayurveda suggests Nasya as the primary treatment for allergic rhinitis. Medicated oil drips are inserted to the nostril in nasya. Nasya helps to expel the excess kapha and balances the doshas. After clearing the passages, internal medicines are to be prescribed.