HOMEOPATHY AND ALLERGIC RHINITIS: AN OVERVIEW
- What is Allergic Rhinitis/ Chronic Cold?
Rhinitis is the inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the nose. This swelling produces symptoms commonly associated with allergies and the common cold: runny nose, stuffiness, congestion, and sneezing. There are different causes that can be experienced acutely (temporary) or chronically.
Recurrent nasal blockage/discharge that lasts for more than 12 weeks and doesn’t resolve on its own is called chronic rhinitis. It often results from irritation or inflammation in the nose which impacts daily life and wellness. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 50 million people experience various types of allergies every year. Knowing the source of your allergies, reducing exposure, and treating symptoms can significantly reduce the impact of chronic rhinitis.
- Who can be affected?
Allergic rhinitis affects approximately 20 percent of people of all ages. The risk of developing allergic rhinitis is much higher in people with asthma or eczema and in people who have a family history of asthma or allergic rhinitis.
Allergic rhinitis can begin at any age, although most people first develop symptoms in childhood or young adulthood. The symptoms are often most severe in children and in people in their 30s and 40s. However, the severity of symptoms tends to vary throughout a person’s life. Some people go through periods during which they have no symptoms at all.
What are the signs and symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis?
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis vary from person to person. Although the term “rhinitis” refers only to nasal symptoms, many people also have symptoms that affect the eyes, throat, and ears. Sleep may be disrupted as well.
Symptoms may include the following:
- Nose– Watery nasal discharge, blocked nasal passages, sneezing, nasal itching, postnasal drip, loss of taste, facial pressure, or pain.
- Eyes– Itchy red eyes, a feeling of grittiness in the eyes, swelling, and dark discoloration of the skin below the eyes (called “allergic shiners”).
- Throat and ears– Sore throat, hoarse voice, congestion or popping of the ears, itching of the throat or ears.
- Sleep– Mouth breathing, frequent awakening, daytime fatigue, trouble doing normal activities.
- With perennial (year-round) allergic rhinitis, the predominant symptoms include postnasal drip, persistent nasal congestion, and trouble sleeping.
What are the Common Causes of Rhinitis?
The causes of rhinitis can be categorized as allergic or non-allergic and include the following:
- Allergic Rhinitis: also known as hay fever, this form of rhinitis is produced by the body’s immune system responding to a specific environmental trigger, known as an allergen. The immune system accidentally identifies a substance (the allergen) as a threat, activating its response system to neutralize it. This involves releasing antibodies that then detect the allergen whenever you experience it, releasing chemicals like histamine into your bloodstream. This then produces the symptoms commonly associated with allergies. People can come into contact with an allergen in a variety of ways: ingesting, inhaling, touching, or injecting it into the body. The most common type of allergen is pollen, which causes seasonal allergies. Other sources of allergic rhinitis include pet dander, mold, and fungi.
- Non-Allergic Rhinitis: The occurrence is less common, non-allergic rhinitis accounts for about one-fourth of all rhinitis cases. This type is not caused by the body’s immune system but instead by impacted blood vessels in the nose, leading to congestion. Non-allergic triggers often include chemicals with strong odors (detergents, perfumes), tobacco, pollution, and weather changes. Non-allergic rhinitis can also be caused by a viral infection like the common cold.
Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis produce similar symptoms: runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing, post-nasal drip, and itchy/watery eyes. This can be self-managed using a combination of methods.
What are the other forms of rhinitis?
Apart from Allergic Rhinitis, there are other forms of rhinitis that are not allergic.
- Vasomotor rhinitis – Non-inflammatory rhinitis that can be triggered by a change in temperature, odors, or humidity.
- Infectious rhinitis – Viral or bacterial infections, most commonly seen in the pediatric population.
- Cerebrospinal fluid leak – Clear rhinitis refractory to treatment.
- Non-allergic rhinitis with eosinophilia syndrome (NARES) – Infiltration of eosinophils in nasal tissue without allergic sensitization.
- Chemical rhinitis – Exposure to chemicals through occupation, household chemicals, and sport/leisure exposure.
- Rhinitis of pregnancy and hormonally-induced rhinitis.
- Drug-induced rhinitis – e.g., NSAIDs, ACE inhibitors, nasal decongestants, cocaine.
- Autoimmune, granulomatous, and vasculitic rhinitis – Granulomatosis with polyangiitis, sarcoidosis, etc.
- Nasal polyposis
- Nasopharyngeal neoplasm
- Sickle cell anemia – in a young child presenting with nasal polyposis and well-controlled asthma, sweat chloride testing is the appropriate next step in management to rule out cystic fibrosis.
- Children, particularly those under the age of 2 years, should also be assessed for congenital causes of nasal obstruction, such as choanal atresia and immunodeficiencies.
How can we diagnose rhinitis?
Generally, we can diagnose rhinitis by identifying allergens and other triggers — It is often possible to identify the allergens and other triggers that provoke allergic rhinitis by:
- Recalling where you were and what you were doing before your symptoms started (for example, spending time outside or around animals).
- Noting the time of year during which you have noticed symptoms.
- Looking closely at the home, work, and school environments for potential allergens.
- skin testing if symptoms are not well-controlled with medications or if it is not clear what is causing symptoms. This involves an allergist putting tiny amounts of different allergens on your skin and observing which causes a reaction.
- Blood tests.
Treatment and management of Rhinitis:
There is a wide range of over-the-counter medications and natural remedies that people often use to alleviate symptoms. Non-prescription medications include:
- Antihistamines: Taken orally to alleviate allergy symptoms.
- Decongestants: Intended to alleviate nasal congestion specifically and can be taken either orally or via nasal spray.
- Antihistamines and decongestants are often combined to comprehensively tackle symptoms and provide relief.
- Rinsing nasal passages with saline solution to reduce congestion. There are different tools used to do this like a neti pot.
- Facial steaming: steam from boiling water, humidifier, or other machine helps drain the mucus that has accumulated in the nose and caused congestion.
- Drinking tea, herbal mixtures, honey, etc. to alleviate irritation of the throat.
- If there are structural issues that are contributing to chronic rhinitis, surgery may be a treatment option. Issues like a deviated septum can impact sinuses and be corrected through surgery.
Tips to Manage Rhinitis:
In addition to identifying the source of your allergies, there are numerous ways to manage rhinitis that minimize its impact. A few tips include:
- Pollen is the most common cause of rhinitis so it is important to be aware of the pollen count! Regularly check weather projections so you know when pollen is high. This can help you better prepare by taking necessary medications in advance.
- Keep windows and doors closed when pollen is high, and avoid being outdoors.
- Keep the air in your indoor environment as clean as possible by vacuuming regularly, using a dehumidifier, consistently replacing air conditioning filters, etc.
- Find the most effective combination of over-the-counter medications and natural remedies that works for you. This can take some experimenting!
Navigating chronic rhinitis can be challenging, especially during the spring and summer months when pollen is most pervasive. Consistently dealing with symptoms can be unpleasant and disruptive. Taking the time to establish the most effective treatment plan that alleviates your symptoms can drastically improve your experience of rhinitis. Additionally, reducing your exposure to allergens and prioritizing your health in this way can enhance overall wellness.
Complications during allergic rhinitis:
Problems that may be associated with allergic rhinitis include:
- Ear infection. In kids, allergic rhinitis frequently is a factor in a middle ear infection.
- Worsening asthma. Allergic rhinitis patients with positive allergy skin tests are significant risk factors for the development of Asthma. Allergic rhinitis can worsen signs and symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing and coughing.
- Prolonged sinus congestion due to allergic rhinitis may increase your vulnerability to sinusitis — an infection of the skin that lines the sinuses.
- Recurrence of Nasal Polyp.
- Poor sleep. Allergic rhinitis symptoms can keep you awake or make it hard to stay asleep, which can lead to fatigue and a common feeling of being unwell.
- Reduced quality of life. Allergic rhinitis can interfere with your enjoyment of activities and cause you to be less productive. For many people, allergic rhinitis symptoms lead to absences from school or work.
How does Homeopathy help?
Basophils (a type of blood cell), with surface IgE, play a role in allergic responses, releasing chemical mediators that cause allergic symptoms when IgE binds to its specific allergen. The ultra-diluted and energized (potentized) homeopathic micro-medicines act like a type of specific biostimulation, precisely working similarly to an enzyme key system and creating the desired harmless effect on the targeted organs only, here on the immune system, strengthening the body’s defense mechanism against allergens by inhibiting basophil degranulation. This makes the Homeopathic treatment safe and effective and so is considered a safer treatment for allergic rhinitis. Some of the commonly prescribed homeopathic medicines are Allium cepa, Arum triphyllum, Gelsemium, Nux Vomica, Sabadilla, Arsenicum iodide, Natrum mur, and many others. The one who is suffering from allergic rhinitis/ chronic cold should consult the expert to get treated as homeopathic medicines are selected after thorough case-taking by the homeopath. The homeopath then matches the totality of the symptoms of the patient with that of the remedy and then prescribes the medicine in correct doses and repetition depending on the chronicity of the disease and severity of the symptoms.
- Allium Cepa:- This is a homeopathy medicine. It affects people when they feel profuse watery, acid-burning discharge from the nose. Also beneficial in bland discharge from the eyes, the feeling of a lump at the root of the nose, and Fluent coryza with headache, cough, and hoarseness. Catarrhal symptoms are worse indoors, and better in the open air.
- Arum triphyllum:- This remedy is used for constant picking at the nose until it bleeds, Pain over the root of the nose, Acrid, excoriating discharge producing raw sores, Nose completely stopped, must breathe through the mouth.
- Gelsemium:- This remedy is beneficial when people feel itching and tickling in the soft palate and nasopharynx. Coryza with thin, acrid, watery discharge. The sensation is as if hot water loses from the nostrils. Fullness at the root of the nose. Excessive sneezing, worse early morning.
- Nux Vomica:- This remedy works when the nose is stuffed up at night and outdoors. Violent sneezing, Patient chilly and irritable.
- Sabadilla:- This remedy works when people feel spasmodic sneezing with a running nose, Copious watery nasal discharge, Over Sensitivity to odors, Contractive stupefying headache, Violent sneezing with redness, watering, and swelling of eyelids.
- Arsenicum iodide:- Remedy for thin watery, excoriating discharge from anterior and posterior nares, Irritation and tingling of the nose, and constant desire to sneeze.
- Natrum mur:- This remedy for violent fluent coryza, Discharge thin and watery, like the raw white of an egg, Cold commences with sneezing.
Why Cosmic Homeo Healing Centre?
Under the able guidance of second generation Homeopath Dr. Mahavrat S Patel, our team of expert homeopaths at Cosmic Homeo Healing Centre, prescribe and dispense ultra-diluted and potentized homeopathic micro medicines for Rhinitis, based on individual symptoms and physiology. These medicines act as biostimulation that precisely works similarly to the enzyme key system and creates a desired harmless effect on targeted organs only. We ensure better and solution-driven Homeopathic medicines for any type of Rhinitis.