Background: Acupuncture has shown beneficial effects for seasonal allergic rhinitis; however, it is time and cost intensive. We investigated feasibility and effects of self-administered body acupressure as a self-care technique that stimulates acupuncture points with manual pressure in seasonal allergic rhinitis patients.
Methods: We conducted a two-armed randomized controlled exploratory trial to compare effects of self-administered acupressure over 4 weeks at five acupuncture points plus rescue medication (RM) with cetirizine compared to RM alone in seasonal allergic rhinitis patients. Among other outcome parameters, we assessed disease-related quality of life (Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire [RQLQ]), overall seasonal allergic rhinitis symptoms by a visual analogue scale (VAS) and a rescue medication score (RMS) after 4 and 8 weeks.
Results: Forty-one seasonal allergic rhinitis patients (mean age 38.5 ± 10.0 years, n = 21, 51.2% women) were randomized. Compared to RM alone (n = 21), acupressure plus RM (n = 20) was associated with relevant improvements after 4 weeks, shown by the difference between groups in adjusted means of RQLQ: – 0.9 points (95% CI – 1.6 to – 0.2; p = 0.011) and VAS overall seasonal allergic rhinitis symptoms: – 21.6 mm (95% CI – 36.3 to – 6.8; p = 0.005). The RMS was lower in the acupressure group than in the control group: 1.9 points (95% CI – 3.8 to – 0.1; p = 0.120). Group differences decreased slightly until week 8. The acupressure was feasible and safe.
Conclusion: Results of this exploratory study indicate that self-applied acupressure is feasible, may improve disease-specific quality of life and reduce disease-related symptoms as well as anti-allergic medication intake in seasonal allergic rhinitis patients.