Hayfever, medically known as Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis, rarely causes a fever, and is not due to hay! What it does cause however, is itchy eyes, runny nose and frequent sneezing. There may also be facial pain, itching ears and soft palate irritation. So what is the link between Hayfever, Sinitis and Rhinitis? The link is the anatomy – the structures of the ears, nose and throat, and the sinus cavities that lie behind our faces.
Sinus cavities – there are more of them and they are probably larger than you may think. There are frontal sinuses behind our forehead, ethmoid (small nasal bone) sinuses deep behind either side of the nose, maxillary ones behind each cheek bone and finally the sphenoid sinus – almost in behind the eyes. When working well, these spaces within the bones of the face are lined with healthy membranes that produce mucous which moistens and warms the air we breathe whilst trapping dust and tiny particles. The sinuses also make the bones of our face lighter, more resilient to impact and create resonance chambers for our voice when we speak.
The ears, nose and throat (ENT), which are all connected. The ears connect to the throat by the eustation tubes, and the back of the nose joins the part of the throat called the pharynx. Like the sinuses, all of these structures, and the conjunctive lining of the eyes, are lined with the same continuous mucous membrane.
What happens to cause the inter-connected web of membrane to become so unstable? Embedded in the lining layers are anti-bodies called ‘mast cells’. These are part of our immune system and usually work to protect us against infection. In some cases, however, the mast cells over-react to something such as pollen causing an ‘allergic’ reaction and a cascade of symptoms. The sensitised mast cells release chemicals including histamine which makes tiny blood vessels swell and redden, nerve endings become irritable causing itching and mild pain, and the mucous membrane secretes watery fluid. The nose, trying to help clear the offending particles, starts sneezing!
The diagnoses of theses symptoms then is usually based on why, how often, and where in the face you get them. Sinusitis is more in the face, however, rhinitis is more in the nose. Allergic rhinitis can be perennial (all year-round) or seasonal – the latter is usually due to pollen :
March, April & May = Tree Pollen
June = Grass Pollen
August & September = Potato & Wheat
Autumn = Leaf Moulds
Perennial rhinitis is usually due to house mites, and finally idiopathic/chronic rhinitis can be attributable to stress, chemicals, hormones or temperature changes.
What can be done to help?
Medically, anti-histamines and decongestants may help. Our allergy therapist and homeopath achieve great results using desensitising remedies making your system less reactive. Acupuncture is also very effective in relieving these problems. As an osteopath specialising in the mechanics of the face, the ENT structures and upper respiratory tract, I would be looking primarily at the ability of the anatomy to drain the sinus cavities, to clear the congested mucous, calm the nerve irritation and improve the blood supply.
I do this by applying very gentle finger pressures over the face, working on the specific sinus, then to the top and back of the head to check muscle tensions and neck alignments, and finally to the sides of the neck and throat to check lymphatic drainage.
The treatment is gentle and relaxing and whilst not claiming to cure any of these problems, it may be able to relieve some of the symptoms. Click here for more information on Craniosacral Therapy or Osteopathy. For an appointment, simply
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