Hay fever / rhinitis
What is rhinitis?
Symptoms of rhinitis
Types of rhinitis
Remedies for rhinitis
What is rhinitis?
Rhinitis is commonly known as a runny or stuffy nose. It is caused by irritation, infection or inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose by viruses, bacteria, allergens or irritants. Excessive amounts of mucus cause a runny nose, nasal congestion (stuffy nose) and post-nasal drip. It is a common condition, about 20-30% of all people are affected each year.
Post-nasal drip is when excessive mucus produced by the sinuses accumulates in the throat or back of the nose. It can be caused by rhinitis, sinusitis, acid reflux, swallowing disorders, birth control pills or pregnancy (because of the elevated levels of estrogen hormones). It is frequently linked to allergies.
The excessive mucus can result in constant swallowing, coughing, snorting to clear mucus from the sinuses, spitting mucus, tickling in the throat, and clearing of the throat. There may be a feeling of congestion at the back of the throat, nose or sinus passages. This can lead to a chronic sore throat, broken or cracking voice, bad breath, and difficulty breathing. Large quantities of mucus in the stomach can make one feel nauseated.
Symptoms of rhinitis
The symptoms are often seasonal.
- Eyes - tears, red, itchy, puffy eyelids.
- Sneezing, nasal itching.
- Runny or stuffed nose, reduced sense of smell.
- Inflammation and swelling around the eyelids, nose and middle ear.
- Skin rashes such as hives.
- Fatigue, irritability.
- Memory problems, slow thinking, learning problems.
- Ear blockage or other conditions.
- Dark circles under eyes.
- Sleeping problems.
Types of rhinitis
There are three main types of rhinitis, and treatments will vary for each:
Allergic rhinitis (Hay fever)
Hay fever is an allergic reaction that usually develops immediately after exposure to an allergen, causing itching, swelling and mucus production. Particularly sensitive people may develop hives or other skin rashes. Common allergens include pollen, pet dander, household dust, dust mites, cockroaches and mould.
Allergies are now so common that about one in three people have an active allergy at any given time, and at least three in four people develop an allergic reaction at least once in their lives. Many people heal from the problem as they get older.
Air particles in polluted air and chemicals such as chlorine and detergents, which can normally be tolerated, can aggravate the condition. Try to avoid foods or smells that cause an itchy throat or sneezing.
Sometimes a person is allergic to specific allergens that they do not know about - a specialist can test to find which they are.
Inflammatory / vasomotor rhinitis
Vasomotor rhinitis is not well understood. It appears to be significantly more common in women than men, leading some researchers to believe hormones to play a role. It is rarely found in people under the age of 20. Non-allergic triggers such as smells, fumes, smoke, dusts and temperature changes can cause vasomotor rhinitis. Sufferers typically experience symptoms throughout the year. Allergic rhinitis can also bring it on.
Infective / infectious rhinitis
Infectious rhinitis is caused by a viral or bacterial infection, including the common cold. Symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, cough, congestion, and slight headache. Fever (raised temperature) is rare, except in children.
Remedies for hay fever / rhinitis
- Salt, natural NOT refined. Dissolve a quarter teaspoon of unrefined sea salt or pink Himalayan salt in a glass of tepid to warm water, and drink it down. This is the first thing to try if you have hay fever. It sounds too simple, too cheap to work. But usually it does! You will know within half an hour if this is the cure for you.
- Quercetin and bromelain. Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid. The best food sources of quercetin are capers (the most concentrated source) followed by red onions, berries and citrus fruits. Quercetin is found in many other fruits and vegetables, and at significantly higher levels if the produce is organic. Bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme found in pineapples. You can buy supplements with these two compounds, but make sure they don't contain anything else (other chemicals). I have always maintained that it is best to get your micronutrients from foods rather than supplements.
- Apple cider vinegar is the next remedy to try. Usually ACV will stop hay fever within a few hours.
- A low inflammation, low allergy diet. This avoids sugar and grains, and is low in carbohydrates. The full details are in my book Grow Youthful, and you can see more detail on this diet here.
- Vitamin D sufficiency.
- Berberine. (1)
- Stinging nettle. If you have a garden, it is possible you may already have some growing in it like a weed. You cannot eat it raw, but it becomes easy to handle and eat with just a little light boiling or steaming. Stinging nettle is also an excellent liver tonic and healer, and anti-inflammatory.
- Vitamin C and Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Both these nutrients should be obtained through your diet, rather than by using supplements.
- Nasal salt wash. Dissolve a teaspoon of sea salt in half a litre (2 cups) of body temperature water. Use a neti pot (widely available online) to rinse out both nostrils with this solution.
- Bee pollen is sold as creamy yellow coloured grains. These grains are manually collected by bee keepers at the entrances to beehives, so they are quite expensive. Some people are allergic to bee pollen, so start with the tiniest, most cautious dose - perhaps a single grain the first day. Over the next week or two, build up to an adult dose of two or more teaspoons per day.
- Hydrogen peroxide.
- View remedies & comments contributed by visitors to Grow Youthful's Ailments & Remedies pages.
1. Kim BY, Park HR, Jeong HG, Kim SW.
Berberine reduce allergic inflammation in a house dust mite allergic rhinitis mouse model.
Rhinology. 2015 Dec;53(4):353-8. doi: 10.4193/Rhino15.028. PMID: 26275466.