Ayurvedic treatment for Allergies

Allergies

Know More on Allergy & immunity / Infection & fever

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Allergies Ayurvedic treatment

Allergies are a type of defense mechanism of the human body to protect itself against harmful effects of a foreign particle. It is generally caused by the body when it reacts against a matter that the body perceives to be dangerous. as a danger to itself. Allergies are not a common happening for every individual. These may occur for a lot of foreign particles that may actually not be harmful and hence end up creating trouble to the sufferer.1

The immune system of the body produces ‘antibodies’ that protect form these harmful foreign particles. In allergies, often the body produces a powerful reaction to a substance (through producing antibodies) even though the allergen may not be harmful for the body. The severity of an allergic reaction varies from being a minor localized irritation, to a full fledged medical emergency called anaphylaxis.1

In Ayurveda, the texts mention symptoms that are similar to an allergic reaction under the concept of ‘Dooshivisha’ (Irritating toxins). A regular exposure to unhealthy habitat, season, food and diwaswap (day sleep) tends to aggravate dhatus (the tissues), thereby causing irritating symptoms.  Hence the toxins are called as dooshivisha.2

Causes

Allergies

When someone has allergies, their immune system is actually identifying a harmless airborne matter as dangerous. It produces antibodies to this harmless substance. On repeated contact, these antibodies produce ‘histamines’ in the blood leading to the symptoms.1

Common triggers of allergies are1:

  • Air based allergens - e.g pollen, pet dander, dust mites etc
  • Foods such as peanuts, other nuts, wheat, soy, shellfish, eggs and dairy
  • Different venoms through insect stings - such as bee stings or ant bites
  • Certain medications - particularly antibiotics
  • Some chemicals like latex

Symptoms

Allergies

The symptoms of an allergy depends on the contributing factor and hence, may be seen in the respiratory path, sinuses, nasal areas, skin or in the digestive tract.1

Allergic rhinitis or hay fever can cause1:

  • Regular sneezing
  • A continual running nose
  • Itching of the nose, eyes or roof of the mouth
  • Red watery eyes

A food allergy can cause1:

  • Tingling sensation in the mouth
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue or face
  • Breathlessness
  • Red spots on skin/face/inside mouth
  • Anaphylaxis

An insect sting can cause1:

  • Swelling and pain at the sting site
  • Itching or reds spots all over the body
  • Breathlessness
  • Anaphylaxis

A drug allergy can cause1:

  • Red spots on skin
  • Itching over skin
  • Rashes on face, arms etc
  • Swelling of face
  • Anaphylaxis

 A skin allergey can cause1:

  • Itching all over skin
  • Redness of skin, either localized or all over
  • Peeling of skin
  • Burning sensation

Diagnosis

Allergies

Apart from personal history and a diary record of possible allergies, doctors may also recommend one or both of the following tests1:

  • Skin test. This is done by pricking the skin and exposing it to small amounts of the proteins found in potential allergens. If one is allergic, they’ll likely develop a raised red spot at the test location on the skin.1
  • Blood test. This involves a blood test called the radioallergosorbent test (RAST) – which measures the immune system's response to a specific allergen, by measuring the amount of allergy-causing antibodies, known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies.1

Management

Allergies

Management of Dushivisha calls for dosha-dushya sammurchana vighatanam (i.e. blocking the progression of the disease). This can be achieved by biopurificatory measures like shodhana [vamana (medication induced vomiting) and virechana (medication induced purgation) therapies], and following appropriate precautions (in ahar and vihar) plus symptomatic treatment with herbal medications.1

 

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Ushnodaka (Warm water) for use, Triphala (3 fruits – haritaki, behera and amalki) and honey can be used in diet. Factors that are identified to cause symptoms should be avoided.2
  • Milk products, fish or sea food, alcohol and virudha ahara (Opposing foods) should be avoided. 2

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Avoid diwaswap (daytime sleeping), Atapa sevana (excessive outdoor work), etc2

FAQS

Allergies
  1. How is sinusitis caused? Does it have anything to do with cold foods?

Sinusitis is basically an inflammation of the membranes of para-nasal sinuses or the group of four paired air-filled spaces that surround the nasal cavity. Colds, bacterial infections, allergies, asthma and other health conditions can cause sinusitis, or inflammation of the para-nasal sinuses.

In some people, cold foods may flare the condition and aggravate the allergies resulting in sinus problems. Such people should avoid eating cold foods.

  1. What are symptoms of Asthma? How do I know if someone may have asthma?

Symptoms of Asthma differ from person to person. Some may have infrequent asthma attacks, some have symptoms only at certain times — such as when exercising — or some have symptoms all the time. 

Asthma signs and symptoms include-

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
  1. My reports show a low platelet count, do I have dengue?

Diagnosing dengue fever can be difficult, because its signs and symptoms can be easily confused with those of other diseases — such as malaria, chikungunya, leptospirosis and typhoid fever.

Your doctor will likely ask about your medical and travel history. Be sure to describe any contact you may have had with mosquitoes. Certain laboratory tests can detect evidence of the dengue viruses, but test results usually come back too late to help direct treatment decisions. A low platelet count is generally seen in dengue but is not the only isolated finding. Fever, body-ache, skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever and minor bleeding accompanied by low platelet count is conclusive of Dengue.

  1. How does one contract typhoid? 

Typhoid fever is caused by a bacteria called S. typhi. This bacteria spreads through ingestion of contaminated food or water, and occasionally through direct contact with someone who is infected. In developing nations, where typhoid fever is endemic, most cases result from contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation. The majority of people in industrialized countries pick up typhoid bacteria while traveling and spread it to others through the fecal-oral route or contamination of food and drinking water with fecal contact that may occur due to flies, etc.

This means that S. typhi is passed in the feces and sometimes in the urine of infected people. You can contract the infection if you eat food handled by someone with typhoid fever who hasn't washed hands carefully after using the toilet. You can also become infected by drinking water contaminated with the bacteria.

  1. Can malaria only spread from mosquitoes?

Although the commonest cause of malarial fever is due to a bite by the infected female anopheles mosquito, this is not necessarily the only way one can be affected. 

Because the parasites that cause malaria affect red blood cells, people can also catch malaria from exposures to infected blood, including:

  • From mother to unborn child
  • Through blood transfusions
  • By sharing needles used to inject drugs
  • Organ transplants
  1. Does yellowness of eyes always mean there is a liver problem?

In some people who eat large amounts of food rich in beta-carotene (such as carrots, squash, and some melons), their skin may look slightly yellow, but their eyes do not turn yellow. This condition is not jaundice and is unrelated to liver disease.

Yellowness of the eyes is usually due to the leaked bilirubin pigment in the blood stream. This is called jaundice and most probably occurs in cases of liver inflammation. Such patients will also have a visible yellowness of skin.

  1. How does one get elephantiasis? 

Elephantiasis is basically swelling of the lymph glands due to an infection. The disease spreads from person to person by mosquito bites. When a mosquito bites a person who has lymphatic filariasis, microscopic worms circulating in the person's blood enter and infect the mosquito. People get lymphatic filariasis from the bite of an infected mosquito. The microscopic worms pass from the mosquito through the skin, and travel to the lymph vessels. In the lymph vessels they grow into adults. An adult worm lives for about 5–7 years. The adult worms mate and release millions of microscopic worms, called microfilariae, into the blood. People with the worms in their blood can give the infection to others through mosquitoes.

  1. What is the difference between Pneumonia and Pneumonitis?

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.

Pneumonitis on the other hand, is a general term that refers to inflammation of lung tissue. Although pneumonia is technically a type of pneumonitis because the infection causes inflammation, most doctors refer to other causes of lung inflammation when they use the term "pneumonitis”.

Factors that can cause pneumonitis include exposure to airborne irritants at your job or from your hobbies. In addition, some types of cancer treatments and dozens of drugs can cause pneumonitis.

  1. Is rheumatic fever same as rheumatoid arthritis?

They are different. Rheumatic fever occurs after an infection of the throat with a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, or Group A streptococcus. Group A streptococcus infections of the throat cause strep throat or, less commonly, scarlet fever. Group A streptococcus infections of the skin or other parts of the body rarely trigger rheumatic fever. The exact link between strep infection and rheumatic fever isn't clear, but it appears that the bacterium ‘plays tricks’ on the immune system.

Rheumatic fever usually occurs in younger population especially children while rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammation of the body that mostly affects the joints in adults. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that certain cells of the immune system do not work properly and start attacking healthy tissues — especially the joints. The one that affects young children is called stilts disease.

  1. Every time I touch cold water I get these spots on my skin. There is no other complaint. Is this because of some allergy to water?

You may have a condition called Urticaria. It is a skin reaction that causes red or white itchy spots on the skin. There is a type of Urticaria called cold urticaria, in which skin that has been in contact with cold develops reddish, itchy spots. The severity of cold urticaria symptoms varies widely. Some people have minor reactions to cold, while others have severe reactions. Swimming in cold water is the most common cause of a whole-body (systemic) reaction.

References

Allergies
  1. Mayo Clinic. Allergies. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/basics/definition/con-20034030 accessed Aug 31st 2016
  2. Patel MK, Hingmire NS et al. Studies on Dooshivish and Its Management According to Ayurveda in Co-Relation with Allergic. IRJIMS April 2016; Vol.2 (3): 29-37
  3. Anc Sci Life. 2012 Dec; 32(Suppl 1): S130. 80. The review of herbal anti-allergy and anti-histaminic drugs.  Sneha Kalaskar,1 K. Nishteswar,1 and From 5th World Ayurveda Congress 2012 Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. 7-10 Dec 2012

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