Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Watching A Sneeze In Slow Motion

If you are an allergic rhinitis sufferer, sneezing is probably a daily affair or seasonal affair. We don't really think much about sneezing do we? Have you for a moment, considered the science behind sneezing?

This is a video on sneezing. It is nothing gross. Believe me, in fact it looks rather beautiful! This video by Science Friday is shot with high speed capture of the mucus and gas from human sneezing. Using high speed camera and fluid mechanics, Dr. Lydia Bourouiba and Dr. John Bush of MIT Applied Mathematics study the role of gas clouds during sneezing. Cool!

P.S.: This is also a reminder why we should always cover our mouth and nose when we are sneezing.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Qu-Chi Acupressure Band For Hay Fever And Allergic Rhinitis

I am always interested to learn about drug-free options for allergic rhinitis. Those of you who have been following my blog for some time know that I lean towards the natural way of treatment. That is not to say that I totally shun my antihistamine medication. I take it only when my allergic rhinitis is very severe and debilitating, with the natural remedies failing to work their magic. Thankfully, I have not taken them in a long time. So long that I can't even remember when was the last time I took it! That said, I still have the occasional sneezing fits and running nose, but these symptoms are bearable and go away on their own after awhile.

Recently, I came across the Qu-Chi acupressure band that is developed to work for hay fever and allergic rhinitis. It is a band that can be worn on either arm around the elbow. Designed and developed in the UK by a fully qualified acupuncture and acupressure practitioner, this product is registered with the Medicines Health Regulatory Agency (MRHA) as a Class 1 medical product.

So how does it work?
In short, the Qu-Chi is a point in the large intestine meridian that has been used by acupuncturists and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. This point is useful in treating the nasal and eye symptoms of rhinitis. By wearing the Qu-Chi band, it stimulates the acupressure point which in turn can help ease breathing problems and sinus issues.

According to their website, these are the benefits of Qu-Chi acupressure band:

  • Drug Free, natural product
  • Can be used with other medication and even 24 hours a day. Can be used all year round too.
  • Does not cause drowsiness
  • Fast acting
  • Suitable for all ages (note: Do not use during pregnancy)

My thoughts
I did not use this product, but found it interesting by the way it is developed to work. It works in the principle of acupressure/acupuncture in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which I am a firm believer in. There are also some good reviews on it (more reviews at  If I saw this product a few years ago when my allergic rhinitis condition was still horrible, I would definitely have given this a try. It is a light weighted product and given the inexpensive price tag (you can buy from Amazon), it is worth a try if hay fever or allergic rhinitis has been giving you a lot of misery.

My logic whenever I want to try something new is this: what can you lose? In this case, the band cost about the same or maybe even less than your antihistamine medicine. If it works, you can toss out your medicine for good (who likes to take medicine anyway??) If it doesn't, it is ok. I take it as spending a small amount to buy a chance for a natural relief of a permanent health issue.

The one thing to note with this product is that it is important you position the band correctly as it works based on the acupressure point. So if your band is mis-aligned, you may not find it effective. You can read here on how to position the Qu-Chi band.

If anyone has tried this before, I would love to hear your experience with this product. Feel free to get in touch with me or leave comments here.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Why Does Alcohol Worsen Your Allergies?

Many of you may have heard the saying that drinking alcohol is not good for allergies. But do you know why?

Why does alcohol worsens allergies?

1. Beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages contain histamine, which is produced by yeast and bacteria during the fermentation process. Now as we all know, histamine is the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms.*achoo*achoo*achoo!

2. Wine and beer also contain a group of sulfur-containing compounds known as sulfite, which can trigger asthma and other allergy-like symptoms.

3. According to ACCAI"alcoholic beverages can cause the blood vessels in the nose to enlarge temporarily and produce significant nasal congestion."

4. The dehydrating effects of alcohol can heighten the effects of allergic rhinitis. How so? When the body is dehydrated, histamine is increased. So there we go again with the histamine.

There have been studies conducted that showed that alcohol worsens allergies. In a study done in Sweden in 2005, scientists found that people who suffer from hay fever are more prone to experience sneezing and runny nose after a drink as compared to the general population. Red wine and white wine were found to be the most frequent triggers and women are more likely to be affected than men. Yet another study of thousands of women in 2008 found that alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of developing perennial allergic rhinitis.

So if you are suffering from hay fever or allergic rhinitis, it is best to drink in moderation and cut down alcoholic drinking during the months when your seasonal allergies tend to worsen. More so if you are a woman.

I am not a regular drinker. I drink beer or wine once in a while usually during celebratory occasions. I think the fact that I don't drink regularly has probably save me from more sneezing, itching and blocked nose!

Monday, 14 July 2014

The History of Hay Fever

I came across this very interesting article from BBC news on hay fever history and thought it might interest those of you suffering from it. Read full article here.

Some fascinating hay fever history tidbit:

  • Hay fever is discovered by John Bostock, a Liverpool-born London doctor, who suffered from catarrh - blockages of the sinus and a general feeling of heaviness and tiredness - in June every year since the age of 8.

  • In 1819, aged 46, Bostock presented a study called Case of a Periodical Affection of the Eyes and Chest. In this study, he laid out the symptoms of hay fever sufferers and some of the relief treatments he had tried such as bleeding, cold baths, taking opium and self-induced vomiting. Nothing had worked for him. (Yikes! Ain't you glad that we don't have such treatment in this modern day for hay fever?!)

  • Over the next 9 years, Bostock found 28 cases of hay fever for his extended research and published a second article in 1828, christening the condition "catarrhus aestivus" or "summer catarrh". By then, he strongly believed that hay fever was triggered by something that happened in the summer, despite not gaining support from the medical establishment.

  • In between his first and second study, an idea prevailed in the general public that hay fever is due to the smell from new hay, hence coining the term "hay fever."

  • However, Bostock didn't agree. He thought a recurring disease, aggravated by the summer heat, was to blame and he was right. His symptoms reduced tremendously that he "nearly escaped the disease" when he rented a clifftop house for 3 consecutive summers, enjoying total rest.

  • Sea air then became a fashionable remedy for all sorts of ailments and many followed Bostock's example. In 1827, The Times reported that the Duke of Devonshire was "afflicted with what is vulgarly called the Hay-fever, which annually drives him from London to some sea-port".

  • In 1859, the true cause of hay fever is finally diagnosed. British scientist Charles Blackley (another hay fever sufferer) sneezed violently after smelling a bouquet of bluegrass and became convinced that pollen is the cause. He thought the toxins in pollen were poisoning people.

  • It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that the concept of allergies is developed.

    Tuesday, 8 July 2014

    Natural Hay Fever Buster Juice

    It is Summer time now and many are into juicing to beat the heat. If you are also suffering from allergic rhinitis (Hay Fever), this juice recipe may help you combat your allergies.

    1 piece fresh Ginger (about thumb nail size)
    1 Apple
    1/2 Lemon (preferably organic as zest & peel is included in the juicing)

    Simply juice all ingredients and drink. Easy peasy!

    Best to drink every morning daily. It is preferred that you start doing this a few weeks before the allergy season kicks in and continue throughout the whole season. 

    This is by no means a miracle drink. But some people find it helpful for their allergies and its all natural, cheap and easy to make. No harm in trying :)

    Why is this juice helpful for those with hay fever? 
    1. Ginger is a natural antihistamine and decongestant. It also has warming properties which is beneficial in certain respiratory disorder. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and helps to lessen swelling of the mucous membrane.

    2. Apple contains quercetin which is a natural antihistamine.

    3. Lemon and lemon peel is high in vitamin C and also detoxing.

    Tuesday, 1 July 2014

    Tips On Driving When Having The Allergy Symptoms

    Recently, there are some articles about allergic rhinitis (hay fever) sufferers driving during the high pollen counts of the allergy season. According to Wall Street Journal, a study in Netherlands showed that allergy symptoms' effect on driving was comparable to having a blood-alcohol concentration nearing impaired levels! This is a rather alarming result.

    Here's another one. A survey has revealed that many motorists are unaware that some medications can impair our ability to drive safely. Figures show that one in six (17%) admit either ignoring warnings not to drive or not checking that label at all. This lack of awareness is also shocking. For allergic rhinitis sufferers, there are some antihistamine medication that could cause drowsiness. Older, first-generation antihistamines like piriton (chlorphenamine) cross the blood-brain barrier and inhibit one of the other functions of histamines, thus causing drowsiness. Newer generation of antihistamines are generally fine, but best to check the labels or with a health care professional when in doubt.

    So what can you do if you have a bad allergy day but needs to get around? Here are 7 tips:

    1. Get a family member to drive if you are heading out together

    2. Take public transport.

    3. Take non-drowsy antihistamine medication at least an hour prior to driving for the effect to kick in.

    4. Inhale some peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil before leaving to clear your stuffy nose. Better yet if you could diffuse it in your car.

    5. Bring plenty of tissues with you. Place them at easy to reach places in the car if you are driving.

    6. Try to wear something with pockets so that its easier for to store those half-used tissues. (at least that's what I do!)

    7. Lastly and most importantly, keep the car windows closed and use the air con if you suffer from pollen allergies.