Itchy and running nose can appear petty for an observer, but for a sufferer, it can be a source of distress and considerable annoyance. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, allergic rhinitis, commonly known as nasal allergy affects 10-30% of the global population and 20-30% of the Indian population.
Understanding allergic rhinitis
This is an inflammatory condition that affects the nasal lining. It occurs due to an oversensitive immune system.
The immune system which is meant to protect the body from pathogens identifies an innocuous substance (allergen) as harmful. This leads to the creation of antibodies that fight the allergen (mainly IgE). This sets in a cascade of reactions bringing in different types of cells and creating memory for the specific allergen next time an individual is exposed to it. This is sensitization of the body to that allergen. During subsequent exposure to a sensitized allergen, IgE antibodies bind to it, resulting in a chain reaction and release of chemicals like histamine and leukotriene that are responsible for the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
The major allergens responsible for allergic rhinitis are dust, animal dander, pollen, and molds.
Running nose, sneezing, and watery discharge from the eyes are commonly observed. Irritation of the throat results in sneezing, resulting in a nasal discharge that drains into the throat (postnasal drip). Long-term allergy can cause nasal blockage and breathlessness, especially while lying down.
Based on the duration of complaints:
1) Intermittent: If symptoms last for <4 days a week or an episode lasts for <4 weeks, it is classified as intermittent allergic rhinitis.
2) Persistent: On the other hand, if symptoms last for >4 days a week or an episode lasts for >4 weeks, it is classified as persistent allergic rhinitis.
Based on the severity of complaints:
1) Mild: Mild allergic rhinitis does not show major symptoms. It does not impair daily household, school, or work activities and sleep is not affected.
2) Moderate-severe: Moderate-severe allergic rhinitis has at least two of the following: impairment of daily activities, reduced productivity at school and work, troublesome symptoms (itching of eyes/nose, nose block, and discharge from eyes), and disturbed sleep.
Scope of homeopathy
Homeopathy works on the principle “like cures like,” this means that the prescribed medicine is able to produce symptoms similar to the disease condition, which helps in curing the condition. Homeopathic medicines are seen to improve the over-sensitized immune system and thus act as an immunomodulator or immunoregulator. Homeopathy follows an individualized treatment approach, where medications are prescribed after studying personal characteristics. The following medicines are commonly indicated:
1) Arsenic Album: It is the best homeopathic medicine for allergic rhinitis, especially if presented with intense thirst. Other symptoms that indicate its use are thin acrid nasal discharge, burning in the nose and throat, and a cold that gets worse at midnight or is triggered by temperature fluctuation.
2) Allium Cepa: Acrid discharge from the nose but plain discharge from the eyes is a common indication. Burning and itching of the nose/eyes improve when in the open air.
3) Natrum Mur: Works wonders in cases where sneezing is the predominant symptom or a bout of rhinitis starts with sneezing. Other symptoms include dryness of mouth, thin, and watery discharge from the nose, and a craving for salt.
4) Sabadilla: It is most commonly used in cases with frequent sneezing but scanty nasal discharge. Some other indications are hay fever-like symptoms, frontal pain, and watery discharge from the eyes.
5) Arundo: Indicated in cases where itching dominates amongst other symptoms. Itching in the nose, eyes, and roof of the mouth occurs along with a diminished sense of smell.
Conventional treatment of allergic rhinitis includes antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids that tackle the condition temporarily. Homeopathy, on another hand, treats the disease permanently by correcting the immune response and that too without side-effects like dizziness and drowsiness. If you or anyone you know is suffering from allergic rhinitis and conventional medicines have failed to help, seek advice from a homoeopathic doctor, and you will be surprised to see the results.