Dr. Matthew Fellner DACM, LAc
As winter begins to wind down and the snow melts most people’s minds turn to thoughts of flowers blooming, longer days, warmer temperatures and finally throwing off the shackles of cabin fever. But for 40 million people, spring also means sneezing, itchy eyes, wheezing, congestion, and the misery of feeling like you have a fish bowl permanently encapsulating your head. It may even lead you down a dangerous and dark path to becoming…a…”Mouth Breather!” I know, I was once a mouth breather too. As a kid my allergies were so bad, people used to think my mother’s name was Bob. I could fall out of bed and not hit the hit the floor thanks to the pile of tissues that missed the garbage can. In order to avoid the label “mouth breather”, Americans spend billions of dollars on medicating their symptoms with common over the counter drugs like Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin, etc. Some people have symptoms severe enough to warrant allergy shots, while others just tough it out through the entire season. Rarely though are people completely symptom free. There is however, a safe and extremely effective alternative to combat the annoying symptoms of seasonal allergies that will leave you feeling clear and able to pursue a fully enriched life as a “Nose Breather.” That alternative is…acupuncture.
Many people do not realize that one of the most profound effects that acupuncture has on the body is through regulation of the immune system. Any time a needle is inserted through the skin, the body automatically produces an immune response. Depending on the points chosen, the overall constitution of the patient, and the presentation of the symptoms, that immune response can either be enhanced to help fight off an external influence (such as viruses, bacteria, mold, pollen, etc.), or it can be suppressed to combat a hyperactive response to environmental factors (similar to the way an antihistamine works). Usually, the most immediate effect of the acupuncture is opening the sinuses and nasal passages. This can often be felt within the first few minutes of a treatment. Normally the effect is temporary, but after a few weeks of regular treatment, the sinuses become less swollen, and the nasal passages can remain clearer for longer periods of time. Most patient also notice a significant reduction in the frequency of headaches, eye irritation, and respiratory problems that also can be present. And of course, when you say ‘mom’, it won’t sound like ‘Bob’ anymore. Acupuncture can also help to address the underlying immune factors cause you to react so strongly to environmental factors.
Acupuncture’s ability to affect the immune system builds over time, so getting a head start on the Spring season is crucial. Don’t wait until you are miserable to start seeking relief. And don’t be a “Mouth Breather” for another allergy season.
Here are a few helpful facts and tips that you may not realize about allergies:
1. Most people whose allergy symptoms begin in March or April are reacting to tree pollen that actually can begin to bloom as early as February depending on the winter weather and geographical location. Another reason to start early.
2. Prolonged use of decongestants can actually make the congestion much worse because drying out the mucus membranes will cause swelling in the sinuses, thus narrowing the nasal passages.
3. Mouth Breathing also causes drying out of the nasal passages and swelling. And it makes for some very interesting noises when you sleep. And by interesting I mean awful, disturbing, morbid, and satanic. Every patient who comes for acupuncture receives exercises that teach proper nose breathing.
4. Many allergic symptoms can be attributed to improper dietary habits. People who have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten, wheat , dairy, etc. often experience severe sinus congestion, allergic rhinitis, and headaches in addition to stomach issues.
5. Dust is everywhere and when it collects, your allergies are kicked into high gear. Wash your sheets once a week and use mattress covers. Vacuum rugs frequently, and make sure you change the filters on your AC and heating systems approximately every 3 months. Keep humidity levels in the house at about