So What’s the Big Deal about a Stuffy Nose?

If your child always seems to have a blocked nose, he or she probably has an allergic condition called allergic rhinitis. Not being able to breathe freely is bad enough, but there are other reasons to take chronic stuffy nose seriously.

Allergic Rhinitis is a condition where the mucous membranes of the nasal passage are inflamed, and produce a clear discharge. If you or your child only experience this seasonally, it is called hay fever. If the condition is persistent, you have chronic of perennial allergic rhinits. What causes the inflammation is histamine, a chemical released along with other inflammatory substances during an allergic reaction. These result in your symptoms: runny nose, sneezing, swollen tissues, watery eyes, congestion of the ear and throat.

Aside from the unpleasant cold-like symptoms, allergic rhinitis can cause sore throats because you may have to breathe mostly through the mouth, whicdh dries the throat tissues. Tooth decay is another consequence, for the saliva that normally helps protect your teeth is not able to do its work when you breathe through your mouth. Also, your sense of smell and taste are affected, so you may have a poor appetite, and may become deficient in nutrients. This is especially a problem with children.

Airborne allergens can trigger the production of excessive mucus, causing congestion. If there is too much mucus, the nasal passages cannot be cleared. Because of their smaller noses, small children are particularly affected by stuffy nose.

Rhinitis Usually Comes With Other Allergic Conditions

If you have allergic rhinitis, you either also have other inflammatory allergic conditions or are at high risk of developing them. The chronic inflammation of mucous membranes in allergic rhinitis is part of a widespread pattern of mucosal inflammation that affects different parts of the body. Inflammation of the bronchial tubes and gastro-intestinal tract is often part of this pattern. Therefore, your allergic rhinitis indicates a higher risk of asthma. In fact, rhinitis and asthma occur together in many allergic children, and the rhinitis tends to aggravate the bronchial inflammation of asthma. Children with rhinitis and asthma also commonly suffer from otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear, often called ‘glue ear’).
What Causes All This Inflammation?

Your nose and throat filter the air to remove any particles that can damage your lungs. Your respiratory organs are lined with mucus and millions of tiny hair-like projections that move foreign particles to the throat where you can cough them out or swallow them so they can be eliminated or destroyed. The function of mucus is to trap irritants before they get into the lungs so they can be removed. This requires a moist internal environment.

If the air is dry or your body is dehydrated (which is more common than you might think), the mucus can dry out the mucus so that it is no longer able to protect against airborne particles. Because there is not enough mucus, irritants can then come into contact with the membrane, irritating it and causing inflammation. This weakens the membrane so that particles can pass through it into the body’s fluids. The immune system may over-react to these particles, leading to the development of allergy. Other factors that can contribute to damage of the mucous membranes are poor diet, environmental toxins, and oxidative stress. Your allergic rhinitis can be triggered by any airborne allergens, such as pollen and mould spores, fungus and its spores, smoke, dust mites, animal dander, air pollution, and perfumes.

What You Can Do?

Various natural remedies can be to improve allergic rhinitis. These include homeopathic remedies, acupuncture, acupressure, and nasal irrigation.

Nasal irrigation

You can relieve the swelling and congestion of rhinitis by flushing out your nasal passage with warm salt water (sea salt). It has been shown to quickly reduce levels of histamine (the chemical causing the swelling) and remove excess mucus.  Use the treatment morning and night, or as needed. Bathing in the sea in warm weather is also helpful.

To flush out your child’s nasal passage, dissolve about 1-2 teaspoons salt per quart of warm water, and use a bulb or large syringe to squirt the water towards the back (not the top) of your child’s head. You can add a teaspoon of baking soda to the solution, also. Adults can use a stronger solution. If it stings, start with a weaker solution and strengthen as you become accustomed to it. You can also sniff in the solution from a bowl, one nostril at a time; then hold your head back to allow the solution deep into the nasal passage. Try to avoid swallowing the solution, though you can safely do so.

Vapour Inhalation

This is another traditional remedy that has been shown very effective in reducing congestion and histamine levels. You can sit with your head over a bowl of steaming water with a towel over your head. Otherwise, use a vaporiser with water heated to about 41 – 43° C.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is particularly effective in reducing symptoms of rhinitis, and in desensitizing people to allergens.
Acupressure

To releive nasal congestion, Drs. Kail et al suggest this in their book, Allergy Free. With your index fingers, press on the groove where each nostril meets the cheek, increasing the upwards pressure for a few moments. This also relieves sinus headache.

Desensitization to allergens

If you want lasting relief from allergic rhinitis, you want to re-program your brain and body so that they no longer react to the allergens that trigger this condition in you. You can find information under ‘Your Bio-Free Health Centre’ on this webpage .



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