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Allergies - with Jan DeVries

Monday, 25 February 2008

- Sinitus, Rhinitis, Hayfever
With the cold winter nearly over these common allergies will start to kick in again. Also with cold & flu around in force at the moment people are suffering with Sinusitis and Rhinitis.

Sinusitus - Dr Jan Definition
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the accessory nasal sinuses.  The sinus patient can be affected by inadequate drainage of the projecting growths of mucous membrane inside the nose, also known as polyps.  Incases of chronic sinusitis, inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose is caused.  Accompanying symptoms may be dreadful headaches, nasal discharge, dizziness and aches and pains elsewhere.

How does Sinusitis occur ?
An infection of the sinuses spreads from one in the nose. Most commonly it starts as a common cold. This is a virus infection but very quickly other germs called bacteria will take over. These bacteria can readily spread to the sinuses. Sinusitis sometimes occurs without the preceding virus infection. Dental infections can spread to the maxillary sinus. This occurs because the roots of some of the teeth are very close to the lining of this sinus. Injury to the bones surrounding the sinuses may also cause infection, as may swimming in polluted water.

Why does Sinusitis occur?
Sinusitis is more likely to occur in patients with allergic and other inflammations of the nose, including polyps. If the partition which separates the two sides of your nose (the septum) is deviated, sinusitis is also more likely. All these conditions produce blockage of the nose and obstruction of the openings into the sinuses. Certain germs are commonly found in the nose and are the cause of the infection in sinusitis. The main ones are streptococci, staphylococci and Haemophilus influenzae.

If Sinusitis is left untreated
Most patients with mild sinusitis would improve and recover without treatment. Some patients, particularly those with severe symptoms, are more likely to develop serious complications if untreated. Such complications are rare.

Rhinitus - Dr Jan Definition
Rhinitis is a nasal disturbance either with acute inflammation and hypersensitivity or a chronic inflammatory process with thickening of the nasal mucosa.  In atrophic rhinitis there is a crust formation.

From time to time, every person has a blocked nose. Often this is the result of a common cold (acute rhinitis). A longer-lasting blockage of the nose due to swelling of its lining occurs quite often.

How does Rhinitus occur? -
True allergy of the nose occurs in hay fever. Nasal symptoms may also occur with allergy to a mite, present in house dust. Hay fever occurs in spring and early summer and is worse when pollen counts are high. The substances which cause the allergic response are called allergens. These allergens stimulate the body to produce antibodies. The antibodies combine with the allergen on the surface of the lining of the nose. When the two combine there is a release of certain chemicals which include histamine. Other non-allergic conditions of the nose can also result in these chemicals being made. The chemicals directly cause the inflammation, with swelling, watery discharge and blockage.

Why does Rhinitus occur?
We do not really know why some people become allergic to things. However, allergies tend to run in the family: there is often a family history of hay fever, asthma or eczema. The deviation of the septum may be due to some previous injury, or simply the way in which the nose has grown.

If Rhinitus is Left Untreated
A blocked nose is very uncomfortable and lowers the quality of life. Patients with a blocked nose are more liable to chest and throat infections. They are also more likely to have infections of the nose and sinuses, which can very occasionally have serious complications.

Dr. Jan's Dietary Advice:
It is advisable for sinusitis and rhinitis sufferers to go through an elimination process in order to determine the offending factors in their diet.  The majority will discover that they have an allergy to one or more dairy products.  Cow's milk can be substituted with goat's or soya milk.  Sufferers should remember to increase the use of honey, but reduce salt, spices, alcohol and coffee.  Introduce oats and fruit and vegetable juices to the diet.  Garlic is also an excellent food because of its antibacterial properties.

Hay Fever
Hay fever is a seasonal type of rhinitis, and is due to allergy to grass and tree pollens. Patients react to the pollen which causes a swelling of the lining of the nose. They also have a marked watery nasal discharge and sneezing. Often the normally white conjunctiva of the eyes is inflamed and red. This is one form of nasal allergy. -

Dr. Jan Says
For some, the only symptoms of hay-fever are no more than a runny nose or itchy eyes.  Those who are subjected to a pollen allergy await summer with mixed feelings.  Hay fever affects not only the tissues of the nose, throat and eyes, it also affects the mmune system, severely irritates the nose and causes great suffering.  Reactions to the pollen of certain trees, especially oak and birch, and to grass pollen are certainly well known.  But it is also possible for fungi to act as an allergen.  In most cases de-sensitising is of prime importance, and once the correct diagnosis has been established hay fever patients can take action at the beginning of the season, usually around April by building up their immunity to the offensive factors.

Hay fever sufferers can do much to help themselves by modifying their diet and recognising which chemical additives or preservatives, trigger an allergic reaction.  A high protein diet may also exacerbate the problem.

The following are available in all health foodstores and most pharmacies:
1. Echinaforce Tincture (drops) - €10.50
2. Echinaforce Forte (tabs) - €11.20
3. Luffa Complex (drops) - €10.50
4. Luffa Complex (tabs) - €9.30
5. Galeopsis (drops) - €10.50