- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Hay Fever Relief, Sex, Remedies, Treatments But is There a Cure for Hayfever?
What Causes Hay Fever?
There is an old expression ‘Make Hay While the Sun Shines’. This is not a good idea for approximately 1 in 5 of people who live in the UK and USA who suffer from allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as Hay Fever or Hayfever.
Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to the pollen of hay, grass or other wild plants. Hay fever typically affects the nose, sinus, eyes and throat with symptoms similar to a cold; for example, sneezing, a runny nose and itching, watery eyes.
Hay fever is normally worse in the spring and summer; the exact seasonal period depending on the type of pollen the sufferer is allergic to and the climatic region in which they live. The immune system triggers an allergic reaction to pollen and produces histamine that triggers the symptoms of hay fever.
Hot and Bothered in the Hay?
Hay fever typically begins in ones teens or twenties and then declines as you get older so by middle age the symptoms are less of a problem. There is no known total cure for hay fever but there are lots of ways of reducing the symptoms.
You can start by avoiding pollen altogether, washing out the nasal passages and eyes with
water or a saline solution and finally putting a little Vaseline up the nostrils to keep the pollen out. There are also a range of medical treatments using drugs or natural remedies.
Medicines and Drugs
There are many drugs that
can relieve the symptoms of hay fever.
Some can be bought over the counter and some require a doctor’s
prescription. Antihistamines, the commonest drug, used to cause drowsiness but
today’s versions no longer have this effect.
Those who suffer all summer should try a steroid nasal spray such as Beclomethasone. However, if you take any hay fever medicine it's sensible to discuss it with a doctor or pharmacist. Some people swear by natural, homeopathic or herbal remedies.
Natural Remedies for Hay Fever
A study in the 1990s revealed that HONEY with traces of pollen in it reduces the symptoms of Hay Fever. You can buy this honey from health food shops or farm shops.
Another natural remedy, though with limited associated clinical evidence, is the use of dried NETTLE extract pills. this appears to produce chemicals involved in the allergic response to Hay Fever.
Another natural remedy involves SELF HYPNOSIS. The patient is trained in a technique which when practiced appears to reduce the symptoms of hay fever. This was trialled in 2005 and clinical trials demonstrated a significant reduction of symptoms against a control group.
CHILLIES. The chemical Capsaicin that gives chillies their characteristic hot taste, seems to reduce hay fever symptoms. This can be applied as a spray, under medical supervision. It is reported to give rapid and long-term relief from symptoms. However, beware of snorting chili powder yourself and damaging your delicate nasal membranes!
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plant extracts are found in a number of herbal hay fever remedies and there is some evidence that these have a positive effect in reducing symptoms.
ACUPUNCTURE is supposed to bring hay fever relief although the clinical evidence is inconclusive.
Acupuncture arm bands are another variation of this. The sufferer wears an elasticated band around the elbow (an acupuncture point) that is supposed to dramatically reduce the symptoms of hay fever. If it works then at around $10, this is a cheap alternative to drug therapy. This is marketed under a number of brand names including 'Hay-Band' and 'Qu-Chi Acupressure Band'
Another way of reducing hay fever symptoms is to desensitise the patient with regular vaccinations of pollen around two months before the season starts. A newer version of this is the long-named SUBLINGUAL IMMUNOTHERAPY or SLIT for short, in which pollen-treated drops are placed under the tongue, preparing the body for the hay fever season.
Finally, the chemical quercetin, found in many foods, can help keep hay fever at bay. ONIONS contain a particularly high concentration of the chemical and there is no evidence that eating loads of onions is harmful although they might well interfere with your personal relationships!
I've saved the most interesting until last. In case you are wondering, PHOTOTHERAPY or Light Therapy isn't anything to do with being forced to look at friend's holiday snaps but is a treatment where you stick small Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) up each nostril. I know that sounds weird, doesn't it?
The picture showing the treatment in action looks distinctly strange too! Each treatment session lasts around 4 minutes and you can use it two or three times a day.
Photo therapy devices are available in the UK, marketed under the name Medinose and in the US as Bionase. You can obviously buy Online - why not check the Internet? The Lloyds Pharmacy phototherapy machine in the photograph costs around £15 in the UK.
Phototherapy uses visible red light that slows down the immune reaction to pollen and reduces inflammation of the nasal passages. The light causes a reduction in allergic reactions and symptoms. The LEDs are attached by a cable to a small battery-powered control box so you can use it anywhere.
However, beware of using your photo therapy device in a public place unless you want to cause a few raised eyebrows and the odd giggle. With wires up your nose and your nose glowing bright red you might get some unwelcome attention from other members of the public! And looking a bit like Rudolf the Red-Nosed reindeer is definitely not a good way to find a new partner!
Sex and Alternative Causes of Sneezing
If someone sneezes, it may not be hay fever (or allergic rhinitis). Researchers have found evidence that, in some people, sexual fantasies can trigger a sneezing fit.
So if someone standing close to you on the subway, bus or tube stares at you and then starts sneezing uncontrollably, then it could be thoughts about you that are setting them off!
Hopefully this article has given you lots of ideas about relief, remedies and treatments for hay fever and sneezing. There isn't yet a total cure but lots of ways of reducing the symptoms of hay fever so you can enjoy the summer and, if you are really brave, even venture into a hayloft with someone special!