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Allergic Rhinitis : Definition
Western Medicine Chinese Medicine

Allergic rhinitis is a condition which presents as frequent attacks of sneezing, nasal discharge or blockage of the nasal passages. It may be seasonal (a limited period of the year) or perennial (throughout the whole year).

Seasonal rhinitis is often called "hay fever" and is the most common of all allergic diseases. From 2 to 20 per cent of the population worldwide are thought to be affected by it. Prevalence is maximum in the teenage years; when up to 30 per cent of young people suffer symptoms in the summer months.

Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is a disorder characterized by acute attacks of nasal itching, congestion, watery nasal discharge, and sneezing. The episodes occur frequently with short intervals, or remission periods, between attacks. Attacks commonly occur in the morning and at night. Affected individuals are completely normal between episodes. The disorder is due to a hypersensitivity reaction to certain substances that affect the mucous membranes of the nose and associated glands. The disease presents in both seasonal and perennial forms.

In the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) classic Huang Di Nei Ning (The Yellow Emperor's Medicine Classic), a similarly described disease is referred to as "bi-qiu", or "qiu-ti". "Bi-qiu" means profuse watery nasal discharge; "qiu-ti" means sneezing and profuse watery nasal discharge.

From the TCM viewpoint, the nose has both respiratory and olfactory (smell) functions. It works closely with the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and meridians. The lungs open into the nose and nasal function is mainly dependent on the action of the lung energy, qi. The free movement of the lung qi keeps the nasal passages clear and maintains an accurate sense of smell. The governing meridian (Du Mai), a channel system of the midline controlled by the kidneys, passes through the nose. The kidneys thus communicate with the nose. The spleen is the primary organ of digestion and its main function is to transform food into essence (jing) . This is then transported to the lungs and heart where it is used to create qi and blood. Normal spleen function therefore facilitates proper functioning of the lungs; when the spleen is impaired, phlegm-related disorders may develop.

Click here to see the relationship of the nose with organs from TCM perspective