What is hay fever? (Allergic rhinitis)
Hay fever or allergic rhinitis is the reaction of the body to airborne substances which are called allergens. Some of the common allergens are pollen, weeds, and dust mites. Even though it’s termed “hay fever” it doesn’t mean that the affected person is allergic to hay.
Allergic Rhinitis is the fifth most common disease in the US and its impact on the economy is anywhere between $2 billion and $5 billion. While most patients face relatively mild symptoms, the condition can be severe for some.
Hay fever has symptoms that are similar to the common cold, including the swelling of the sinus passages.
Here are the main symptoms of hay fever.
Sneezing and coughing
- Itching of eyes, nose, throat, and skin
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Chest tightness
- Sore throat
- Pressure in the nose and ears
- Read and swollen eyes with watering
- Loss of smell
In some rare cases, the allergic reaction can take a severe turn. This is termed anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock and it’s a medical emergency. The symptoms include the following
Swelling of the throat and mouth
- Feeling light-headed
- Difficulty in breathing
- Loss of consciousness
Allergic rhinitis can also lead to complications like middle ear infections, acute sinusitis, and nasal polyps in some cases.
As mentioned, the main cause of allergic rhinitis is exposure to allergens. Allergens like pollen and mold spores are most active during spring, early fall, and summer are the common seasons for this disease. Infections related to them are termed seasonal hay fever.
Other allergens like dust mites, pet hair, or dander can occur all around the year. Allergies from these are classified as perennial hay fever.
When you inhale something that’s allergic to the body, the inner linings of the nasal passage get inflamed. This is due to the production of peptides which result in the formation of antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). In people with allergies, the IgE antibodies are produced in excess quantity.
These antibodies make the cells secrete certain chemicals. This results in symptoms like a running nose, congestion, sneezing, or itching.
The reason behind a person being allergic to specific substances isn’t clear. However, genetic factors are one reason behind it.
A doctor will study the symptoms and perform a physical checkup to determine the type of allergy. The doctor can also conduct an allergy skin test or a blood test to determine the type of substance you are allergic to.
While treatments can’t cure hay fever, they can reduce the impact by controlling the symptoms. Some of the common forms of treatment include the following.
- Antihistamine tablets and sprays are used to check the symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, and itching.
- Eye drops are used to reduce swelling and itching in the eyes.
- Nasal corticosteroids are sprays used to treat inflammation of the nasal passages. The doctor can also prescribe oral corticosteroids for short-term use.
- For providing long-term relief, immunotherapy is used. The treatment involves desensitizing the immune system to specific allergens.
An infrared sauna uses invisible electromagnetic waves from the infrared spectrum that have a longer wavelength than visible light. Research has indicated that infrared therapy can improve the symptoms like eye and nasal itching, sneezing, nasal stuffiness, and rhinorrhea, caused by hay fever. At the same time, no adverse effect of the treatment was observed in the patients.
Infrared waves can help in controlling the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Since the ANS plays a major role in the development of allergic symptoms, this treatment can help in allergy relief.
In one study, patients used the sauna three days a week for short sessions lasting for 10 minutes. This resulted in significant improvements in lung functioning, and nasal airflow. In addition, the treatment also showed positive results for patients suffering from asthma and chronic bronchitis
How do Infrared Saunas Work?
Infrared saunas use the full range of the infrared spectrum. These include near-infrared, mid-infrared, and far-infrared wavelengths. The sauna chamber comes with infrared heaters that emit these light waves. The electromagnetic energy impacts the skin in the form of radiant heat.
Near-infrared has the shortest wavelength and they are absorbed just below the skin. This activates the sweat glands and helps in the release of toxins through sweat. Mid-infrared waves penetrate deeper into the tissue and promote healing. The far infrared has the longest wavelength and it can penetrate the fat cells. This helps in the release of toxins from deeper areas and enhances the metabolism rate.
The greater penetration of infrared light also allows the saunas to operate at lower temperatures than traditional saunas. The average operating temperature of an infrared sauna is around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. This improves the sweating rate and also helps the patient to tolerate longer sauna sessions.
Traditional saunas heat the ambient air too. Some people have difficulty breathing this overheated air. But infrared sauna heats the body directly, resulting in no such problems.
Benefits of Using an Infrared Sauna
Other than allergy relief, here are some of the various benefits offered by infrared saunas.
- Infrared light waves help in increasing blood circulation and stimulate the sweat glands to release toxins.
- It influences the autonomic nervous system and controls ANS overactivity.
- Infrared waves help the body to heal and rejuvenate. This helps in reducing muscle soreness and joint pain. It can be effective for injury treatment.
- It helps to reduce stress levels and helps in promoting relaxation throughout the system.
- Infrared radiation helps in preventing premature aging of skin. Sweating helps to clear the impurities and improve skin health. This also helps in treating skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
An infrared sauna is a promising method for controlling the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Moreover, it has multiple added benefits and no side effects as such. This makes it a great choice for people of all age groups.
If visiting a sauna isn’t possible for you, try using a personal sauna. These units allow you to enjoy the benefits of an infrared sauna from the comfort of your home. Other than that, there are compact and portable options like infrared sauna blankets. With these blankets, you can enjoy a sauna session even when you’re traveling.