By Ahmad Fakir Muhammad, Homoeopath, Karachi, Pakistan
Allergic rhinitis is the modern name; the old name is hay fever. As the modern name suggests, it is caused by (over-) reaction of the body to certain allergens. Homeopathy is of much help in this condition. The aim of the homeopathic treatment is to fortify and immunize the system so that it does not show overreaction when exposed to certain allergens.
Symptoms usually include, but are not confined to, a runny and/or stuffy nose with sneezing and itching of eyes. Itching of palate and ears has also been observed in some patients. Eyes are red and watery, usually the type we find after exposure to smoke or acrid gas. Later, if the condition moves on to asthma, there may appear dark circles under the eyes. In severe cases, there may appear swelling under the eyes. In cases, where the runny nose stops, there is postnasal drip i.e. the mucous instead of coming from the nostrils, makes its way to the throat through the posterior nostrils.
Sneezing can be worse any time during the day or the night but in most cases it is worse in the morning. At times, there is a sudden burst of sneezing awaking the patient from sleep at night. In some patients, sneezing is aggravated on coming in touch with water or exposure to cold or cold air or entering an air-conditioned room. Exposure to dust or cigarette smoke can excite sneezing. Rainy weather also affects some patients very badly.
Nostrils are blocked, at times both and at times alternately and particularly the one on the side one lies on, and there is difficulty in breathing. In case of blockage of both nostrils, the patient has to breathe through the mouth and sleeps with mouth wide open. As a result, when he or she wakes up in the morning, the throat is dry and sore. There is a cough, usually dry, from irritation in larynx. In severe condition, the eyes become red and swollen. The patient cannot lie on back or face, rather lies on left or right side, sleep is not refreshing and the patient awakes tired in the morning and does not want to come out of bed.
Family history is also important. Asthma and diabetes are usually found in families. Tuberculosis is not an uncommon occurrence as well.
Allergic rhinitis is closely related to other medical problems such as sinusitis, D.N.S., asthma, ear infection, allergic dermatitis, etc.
In some patients, suppression of allergic rhinitis leads to asthma. That is partially due to wrong treatment and partially due to indiscretion in food. So care should be taken and dietary indiscretion should be avoided. Some patients can have a deviated nasal septum with nasal polyp. There can be bleeding through the nose in some patients. There can be headache if the runny nose is stopped through powerful allopathic drugs.
Exposure to dust, smoke, strong smells, cold in any form excite or aggravate the problem.
Some patients have the condition all the time and some get it on alternate days. The patient cannot lie on back or face, rather lies on left or right side, sleep is not refreshing and the patient awakes tired in the morning and does not want to come out of bed.
Both extremes of weather are bothersome but some patients feel better in winter and some feel better in summer. Some patients suffer both in summer and winter. Their condition aggravates as soon as there is a change in the weather – from warm to cold and vice versa.
In some patients, allergic rhinitis and asthma run side by side. There is blockage of the throat, voice is hoarse, and in rare cases, there is a total loss of voice for sometime. Chronic patients may experience recurrent headaches and fatigue and warmth of body (without any fever).
Antihistamine are medicines of choice with the doctors but little attention is paid to their side effects which include drowsiness, headache, anxiety, insomnia, etc. In some cases antihistamines can cause gastrointestinal, urinary, and circulatory effects. To relieve sinus pressure and open up blocked nose, doctors also prescribe decongestants and nasal sprays. Decongestants and sprays no doubt provide temporary relief but become less and less effective with each attack and sooner or later a stage is reached when they are of no more help.
Can homeopathy help?
Homeopathy has helped many cases. In the next article, some of the most effective remedies in cases of Allergic rhinitis will be discussed.