Do You Have Spring Allergies? Get Tips from Your Local Pharmacist
IT'S ABOUT THAT TIME
Coborn's Pharmacy Clinical Program Manager Jason Miller gave me some valuable information the other day regarding spring and allergy season. If used correctly, there are lots of things that can help us cruise through the spring allergy season without all the suffering.
You can listen to the interview with Jason Miller by clicking on the player button below:
The medical name for allergies is Allergic Rhinitis, so the next time your Doctor tells you you've got it, you know they just mean that you have allergies. Allergies are usually caused by things like pollen, plant spores, mold pollutants, bacteria, dust mites, smoke, and animal dander in the air that you're breathing.
WHAT TRIGGERS OUR ALLERGY SYMPTOMS?
SO why do we seem to react more to these things in the spring? Probably because pollen is a huge trigger, and it comes from all around us. You probably have allergies year-round, but maybe they don't bother you as much until your system is overwhelmed with pollen from every tree imaginable. Plus, if you are someone who keeps the floors vacuumed, the counters dusted and the laundry washed, you're going to feel way better.
Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between having a cold or having allergy problems. Symptoms of allergies include:
- loss of smell
- sinus pressure
- postnasal drip.
- sore or itchy throat
- itchy, swollen, or red eyes,
- pain, pressure, and itching of your ears
- difficulty sleeping due to mouth breathing, fatigue, and waking up a lot.
ALLERGY PROOF YOUR HOME
There are lots of steps you can take to allergy-proof your home. Including using HEPA filters in your home, washing your sheets, pillowcases, and mattress cover more often. I always sleep better on freshly washed sheets anyway.
If you KNOW that you're allergic to cats or dogs, but are determined to have one anyway, maybe just try to keep them out of your bedroom, so you can at least give yourself a break when you're sleeping.
To help with mold and mildew allergies, it's recommended that you run an air conditioner and avoid humidifiers if possible.
THE PROPER WAY TO USE MEDICATIONS FOR ALLERGIES
I learned some really interesting things about medications for allergies that I never knew before Jason mentioned it. If you are someone that KNOWS this is the time of year allergies are going to rear their ugly head, getting ahead of the game is a good idea. He said there are lots of medications that can help, depending on what we are suffering from.
For more severe allergies, like reactions to a bee sting, or poison ivy, Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is a good choice. However, it really really makes you sleepy. That's why you'll find diphenhydramine in a lot of sleep medications. If you are not having a more severe reaction to allergies, you may want to try these other options.
Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec, and Xyzal are all medications that help block Histamine, which causes itching, sneezing, runny nose, and congestion. He recommended getting these and taking them every day for a couple of weeks before you see severe allergy symptoms. He said getting ahead of the game is key to keeping those terrible allergy reactions at bay. They are most effective when taken daily.
Using Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays like Flonase, ClariSpray, Rhinocort, or Nasacort will help with congestion, itching, runny nose, and sneezing symptoms.
Sudafed available over the counter is different than the Sudafed you can get BEHIND the counter at the drugstore. Of course, behind the counter works much better because it helps reduce swelling in the nasal tissue so air can pass through. Jason said that he figures Sudafed over the counter is about 25% as effective.
Now if you didn't get a jumpstart on the season, and you're feeling absolutely terrible, you can try Afrin, but it will be short-lived, like 2 or 3 days only. Then it can start to cause you to rebound congestion. Who knew!
If your eyes are an itchy, watery mess, try eye drop. Ketotifen or Zaditor.
Of course, Pharmacist Miller reminds you that he's not a doctor. If you've tried over-the-counter medications, or if you are already taking medications for other issues, you should talk to your doctor to make sure your medications work well together.