Hurray! Spring has burst into action with a canopy of green leaves unfurling overhead in the trees, the flowers are blooming in a rainbow of colours and the grass is growing like there is no tomorrow. Rushing outside you take a deep breath of fresh air and… Achoooo! You suddenly sneeze, your nose is running and your eyes are watery and itchy. Welcome to hay fever season!
Allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, affects 1 in 4 people in the UK. It is an allergic reaction to the pollen from trees, grass and weeds and is usually seasonal. Although the symptoms are similar to a cold virus, they can last for weeks or months, unlike a cold which usually disappears in 1-2 weeks. Tree pollen causes hay fever in the spring, grass pollen causes it in the summer, and weed pollen (ragweed) in early autumn. Other allergens such as dust, cat and dog dander, and mould can cause similar reactions all year round.
Hay fever is caused by pollen that is light enough to be airborne. This means it is carried by the wind not just outside but into your home through open windows and doors. Heavier pollen that bees collect from flowers does not tend to cause hay fever unless you have been in direct contact with the plant.
Pollen is harmless but your immune system views it as a dangerous substance invading your body. When pollen gets into your eyes, nose and throat, your immune system tries to protect you by producing antibodies which release histamine into your system. Histamine inflames nasal passages, sinuses and eyelids causing the hay fever symptoms to occur which are meant to protect your body by expelling the allergen or causing swelling to block the allergen from entering your body. You are essentially being attacked by your body’s natural defence system.
The symptoms can feel like a bad cold that goes on and on, draining your energy and disrupting your sleep. Over-the-counter antihistamine tablets are often used to counteract the hay fever symptoms as well as nasal sprays and eye drops. But why not try acupuncture? Acupuncture is a natural alternative that can effectively relieve a blocked nose and itchy eyes but it can also help to prevent hay fever symptoms from occurring in the first place. The holistic nature of acupuncture allows the whole person to be treated and not just the symptoms. Try it and see the difference it can make to your summer experience.
Five Element Acupuncture brings the body, mind and spirit into balance to improve your health and wellbeing. Book a treatment with Kathy Hitchens at Balancing Acupuncture in Truro.