Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, are disease terms defined according to Western Medicine. This condition is known as bi yuan in Oriental Medicine, which means nose pool. Allergic rhinitis may occur at any time of the year, however when it is severe and associated with high pollen counts it is called hay fever. The main symptoms of allergic rhinitis are nasal congestion, watery nasal discharge and sneezing. The symptomology of allergic rhinitis are due to an over-reaction of the immune system to certain substances such as dust, pollen, house mites, dog and cat dander, fungal spores or mold.
Oriental Medicine defines this as a deficiency of the protective Qi relating to the lung and kidney organs. Occasionally the eyes and conjunctiva become red and itchy and some people develop asthmatic symptoms in conjunction with hay fever. Many people seek treatment for hay fever when they are having an acute attack. At this stage of the treatment focus is on the symptoms, or what we call the branch of the condition. When a person is not in an attack phase of their condition it is possible to treat the root or cause of the condition. By treating the root, acupuncture is able to strengthen the body's defenses and reinforce the protective Qi to try and prevent hay fever the following year. In other words, we aim to strengthen the body so it is no longer vulnerable to these potential allergens.
For chronic allergic rhinitis that is present year round treatment focuses on the symptoms and the cause at the same time. For this type of patient, a longer treatment regimen is usually required to strengthen the lung and kidney energy. Treatment and management of this disease will need attention on a weekly basis. If the symptoms are severe then more frequent treatment will be necessary for 2-3 weeks, or until the symptoms start to improve. Ideally, patients should be evaluated for treatment about 6 weeks before the hay fever season.