Updated: May 8
What are the symptoms of Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis?
Sun’s out, birds are tweeting and there are blossoms a plenty.
In a cruel twist of fate this time of year, for many, is a season to be feared. Yep that’s right, Spring and allergy season is officially upon us. For the case of this blog I’m specifically talking seasonal allergic rhinitis, otherwise and (probably more commonly) referred to as “hay fever”.
This is the time of year when our immune system completely and utterly overreacts to the abundance of pollen, grasses, wildflowers and trees that have emerged from their winter slumber.
Symptoms of Seasonal allergic rhinitis includes, a very swollen nasal passage, chronic itching of the nose and eyes, sneezing, clear runny nose and sometimes even the experience of asthma and other upper respiratory problems can also occur.
Why is it that this affects some people and not others?
Our Qi is the vital force that is responsible for life and takes a variety of forms in order to serve many functions within different locations of the body. Deficiency, excess or stagnation of Qi results in imbalance and manifests as illness and dis-ease. These seasonal sniffles that some of us are experiencing are a message from the body that things are off kilter. It’s a cry for help from your system to reinstate balance.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis are the physical response to an invasion of External Wind cold or Wind Heat due to deficiency of our Protective Qi (Wei Qi) and underlying Qi deficiency in one (or a combination) of our organ systems. The answer to which system(s) are affected lie in the symptoms that are presenting. Qi Deficiency can be the result of a weak constitution inherited from birth or impacted by many other factors including chronic illness, lifestyle factors, stress, exhaustion and poor diet.
Our Protective Qi (Wei Qi) flows outside the meridians and circulates under the skin and flesh. It serves to protect us from attack from external pathogens such as wind, cold, heat and damp. When the Wei Qi is weak it means our normal armor against external pathogens (in the case of seasonal allergic rhinitis particularly wind) is not there.
The organ systems that we often find involved in allergic rhinitis are Kidney Qi deficiency, Lung Qi deficiency, Spleen Qi deficiency and Liver Qi deficiency. These are only some examples of organs that may be impacted or involved. Any pattern of deficiency will display unique signs and symptoms and these in themselves may vary from patient to patient.
Kidney Qi deficiency may be hereditary or developed from chronic illness, age, and exhaustion. The emotion connected with Kidney Qi is fright. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Kidneys are the source of all Qi. This is known as the Primordial Qi. This Qi feeds the Lung’s defensive Qi so a deficiency in the Kidney Qi is often linked with a disruption of Lung Qi.
Lung Qi deficiency can be linked to genetics, poor health, lifestyle factors or chronic lung disease. The emotion connected to the Lung is grief or sadness and this can impact Lung Qi strength greatly. If your Lung Qi is weak it is also quite common to experience an impairment of the Wei Qi which in turn lends itself to increased likelihood of attack from external wind pathogens. Patients who are experiencing allergic rhinitis with symptoms of runny or stuffy nose and cough or chest tightness are likely to have a Lung Qi deficiency.
Spleen Qi deficiency is generally impaired by poor dietary choices particularly foods that are damp and phlegm producing. Included are greasy, fried, spicy and cold food, dairy, sweets and alcohol. These foods with their damp properties encourage excess phlegm production and congestion. The Spleen is also linked with overthinking and worry. Patients who present with signs of Spleen Qi deficiency are likely to be experienced more pronounced “stuffiness” of the nasal passages as a prominent symptom.
Liver Qi deficiency is generally the result of toxic overload as the Liver plays a central role in detoxification. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is often experienced in Spring after our Qi is exhausted over winter leaving us depleted and without the reserves for the movement and lift associated with Spring. The Liver is associated with the eye therefor symptoms linked the Liver Qi deficiency may in manifest as watery, itchy or red eyes.
Prevention as always is the key. If you know that Spring can be a difficult time for you then nourishing and supporting your system to address the root cause of your hay fever and maintaining strong healthy Qi throughout winter will stand you in the best stead as you move into Spring. Making smart and considered lifestyle adjustments, educating yourself and understanding the impact of diet, sleep and emotional strain on your overall health is going to make a world of difference to your ongoing experience of health.
Of course, as Spring is already upon us you may not have been able to do the groundwork to prevent allergies this season.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are such wonderfully effective healing tools. They can be utilised to establish your unique patterns of deficiency. Once we know the areas requiring support we can work to build and strengthen Qi in the relevant systems. We can also support you to explore the long-term dietary and lifestyle adjustments that will best support you moving forward. We want to empower you to recognize when your body is not running at its best capabilities, what activities tend to draw on your Qi and what you can do to replenish yourself.
If you know you are prone to a case of the seasonal sniffles or would like to find out more about how Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine might be able to assist with deficiency please get in touch with us on (03)59061494 or via our contact page.