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Commonly called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, a seasonal allergy is an allergic reaction to a trigger that is typically only present for part of the year, such as spring or fall. Pollens that are spread by the wind are usually the main cause of seasonal allergies. People who are allergic to pollen are also often sensitive to mold, ragweed, dust mites, and animal dander. About 26 million Americans endure chronic seasonal allergies, while the number of people with milder symptoms may be as high as 40 million, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Sensitive persons may develop seasonal allergies at any stage of their lives but, on the average, they develop in the preteen years. Statistical studies indicate that seasonal allergies are equally present in males and females and that no culture or ethnicity is more prone than any other. However, seasonal allergies tend to run in families and they, therefore, have a strong genetic factor.
Most symptoms become apparent within 5 or 10 minutes of exposure to the allergens and typically include sneezing, dry and unproductive coughing, wheezing, itchy sensations on the roof of the mouth or at the back of the throat, swollen sinuses leading to a stuffy nose and headaches, a runny nose, itching, watery and reddened eyes due to a secondary condition called allergic conjunctivitis, reduced sense of smell and taste, and disturbed sleep.
While there are many Western medications to treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies, these treatments can cause unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness and immune system suppression as well as an over-reliance on medications. These side effects have drawn many people to search for an alternative approach, such as acupuncture and Oriental medicine to manage their allergies. One study recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that acupuncture can significantly relieve allergic rhinitis symptoms.
Acupuncture focuses on restoring balance to the body, improving immune system functioning, helping to relieve pain, reducing stress, enhancing blood circulation, and promoting overall health and well being in adults and children.