ANSWER FOR RESPIRATORY ALLERGIES
(Health ACTION, April 2008)
key words : respiratory allergy Homoeopathy
Allergies are a common and significant cause of morbidity, lost-productivity and increased health care. It is not uncommon to see children on antibiotics, antihistamine cough syrups, tonic and off-and-on bronchodilators for years together without any referral to a specialist. This irrational treatment not only results in disease and economic burden on the family but also lost opportunities of growth and development for the child. A respiratory allergy is a specific immunologic response to a normally harmless allergen. Some people with allergy develop asthma and some allergic rhinitis.
Homoeopathy offers very effective treatment for all allergic diseases such as various skin diseases like urticaria, eczema, and contact dermatitis, as well as given unbelievably miraculous results in asthmatic bronchitis etc. Allergic rhinitis is defined as an allergen-induced inflammation of the membranes lining the nose and the sinus, often due to an allergic reaction to pollen, dust or other airborne substances. The various types of allergic rhinitis include Atopic Rhinitis, Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (also known as hay fever) and Perennial Rhinitis (year round).
Of these, allergic rhinitis remains the common cause of morbidity and social embarrassment. Recent surveys revealed a four-fold increase in the number of consultations with general practitioners, although the reasons are unclear.
A rapid increase in allergic diseases like asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis and food allergies has been observed worldwide. Globally, it has been noted that allergic rhinitis affects 24% of the population n the United Kingdom, 20.6% in Norway, and 19.6% in Germany and 26% of the population in India. Today, the incidence of asthma-related cases is 10-12 percent. In terms of the age-groups affected, about 70 per cent of patients develop allergic rhinitis before they are 30 years of age and, the adolescent children have greater incidence with allergic rhinitis occurring between 8-11 years of age. Over $600 million is spent annually in the management of this disease by United States which does not include the costs of the 2 million lost workdays, 3 million lost school days and 28 million days of decreased productivity from the symptoms of the disease and/or side-effects of the medications used to treat them.
Heredity plays a role in the development of allergies. The risk of the developing allergies is 18% if neither parent is a topic, 20% if one parent is atopic and 50%, if both parents are atopic.
Irritants like smoke, perfumes, strong smells, air pollutants and temperature changes, dust mites (see figure), polluted areas having high levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen diospets, moulds growing on wallpaper, upholstery, carping and plants within the house are found to cause allergic rhinitis. Grasses and trees that release minute pollen grains are also known to cause allergies. Allergies contracted from grass are experienced more in the late afternoon while that from mould spores may peak on dry windy afternoons or on damp or rainy days in the early morning. Intake of alcoholic drinks like wines and beer, sea foods, chlorine in swimming pool water, drugs like birth control pills and female hormones, some drugs used for blood pressure control, aspirin and chronic use of decongestants in the nose can also produce rhinitis.
Perennial rhinitis: common causes are dust mite found in many homes, and domestic pets. Salivary protein of cat, allergens from cockroaches etc. also cause perennial rhinitis. Occupational rhinitis is caused by an agent inhaled at the work place.
When an allergen such as pollen or dust is inhaled by a person with a sensitized immune system, it triggers antibody production. These antibodies mostly bind to mast cells, which contain histamine and when the mast cells are stimulated by pollen and dust, histamine and other chemicals are released. This results in itching, swelling, and mucus production. Symptoms vary in severity from person to person with very sensitive individuals experiencing hives or other rashes.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include frequent or repetitive sneezing (it is an allergic reaction to something in the air); a runny or congested nose; itching in the nose, eyes, throat, or roof of the mouth; plugged-up ear canals; sore throat; occasional nose-bleeds; impaired smell and wheezing. Sometimes, cross-reactive allergy to some fruits such as the skin of apples or potatoes occurs because of similarities in the proteins of the pollen and the food. Additional symptoms include fever, fatigue, flushing and irritability. Many patients develop watering, itching and redness of the eyes, collectively known as allergic rhino conjunctivitis.
Almost 20-50 percent of patients with allergic rhinitis go on to develop asthma as allergic rhinitis is a risk factor for developing asthma. A large number of children who start with asthma also develop allergic rhinitis.
The most important diagnostic tool is the history of the illness. The timing of symptoms also helps in making the diagnosis. Allergic rhinitis that appears seasonally is almost always due to pollen; and outdoor allergens can be detected by conducting a skin test when the patient is not taking antihistamines. Skin-testing should also be avoided in patients with extensive eczema. For such patients, ELISA and RAST are two commonly used methods that measure the presence of food-specific IgE I the blood of the patients. However, they are more costly than skin tests and also take more time and a simple method for detecting common allergens.
Complications of allergic rhinitis lead to ear infections due to blockage of the Eustachian tube, recurring headaches, reduced concentration, reduced hearing, appetite, and growth.
Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disease in which the airways of the lungs become inflamed or narrowed, resulting in disruptions to normal breathing patterns, often called attacks’ or “episodes’. The level of severity of asthma suffered by each individual, and further, the severity of each attack, varies greatly. Genetic predisposition toward developing asthma and environmental factors play a role in the actual development of the disease. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, a feeling of tightness in the chest, and coughing, which are due to a narrowing of the bronchial passages in the lungs, and to excess mucus production and inflammation. Asthma can be disabling and sometimes fatal.
Treatment: A detailed clinical history of the patient’s illness will identify the likely cause of rhinitis.
Medical philosophy is increasingly coming to the conclusion that the mere treatment of symptoms and organs can only help temporarily and that it is the healing power of the body as a whole that has to be enhanced. Homoeopathy believes in a holistic, totalistic and individualistic approach which provides relief, free of side-effects.
Clinical trials conducted on allergic disorders like atopic dermatitis and childhood asthma in Hyderabad showed encouraging results with homoeopathic remedies. The same was published in an international journal Homoeo Links.
A few homoeopathic remedies with their indications
Arsenicum album: sneezing (with every change in the weather), watery discharge from the nostrils, excoriation of the upper lip, itching, burning and watering from eyes.
Allium Cepa: Prepared from red onion has this excoriating nasal discharge, there is more lachrynation which is bland. The discharge ceases when the patiehnt goes into the open air, but returns when entering a warm room again.
Euphrasia: is similar to Allium cepa, but it has profuse lachrymation, while having bland nasal discharge.
Arum triphyllum: all the seretions are acrid, the nostrils and lips are sore. There is thirst, but drinking causes pain. The nostrils are sore, and there is contant desire to bore the finger into the nose.
Lemna Minor: A catarrhal remedy. Nasal polyps, swollen turbinates. Atrophic rhinitis asthma from nasal obstruction, wrose in wet weather.
Kali lod. Constitutional remedy, starts with sneezing, pfofuse watry acrid coryza with pain in frontal sinus, cold travels downward to chest, laynhx feel raw, violent cough
Teucr ham marum: Catarrhal condition of both anterior and posterior nostrils. Mucous polyps. Chronic catarrh, crawling in nostrils with lachrymation and sneezing. Coryza with stoppage of nostrils.
Solidago: Hay fever. Spasmodic sneezing with runny nose. Copious, watery nasal discharge, worse from the odour of flowers, even thinking of flowers increases the discharge. Oversensitiveness to odours.
Sanguinaria nitrate: Acute clods with sneezing, profuse discharge, burning and rawness in posterior nares, husky voice (must clear throat before speaking).
Pothos: Asthma fromdust exposure (Kalic, Batta, O\, Solanum)
Asthma relieved by stool.
Psorinum: nose dry, coryza, with stoppage of nose, chronic catarrh; dropping from posterior nares, Asthma, with dysponea; worse, while sitting up; better, on lying down.