Allergy season is quickly approaching which means we, along with our cars, will be covered in all that yucky pollen. OH! We can’t forget about all of the sneezing, red and itchy eyes, and sinus drainage that can happen either!
Instead of letting allergies take over your life, follow the tips listed below to help control or prevent allergy symptoms in the first place!
ALLERGY PREVENTION TIPS
- Neti Pot or Nasal Wash – Rinse your nose and sinuses of pollen daily with a Neti Pot or nasal wash spray to decrease allergen exposure.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a naturally occurring water-soluble vitamin that boosts the immune system, and at higher doses it may act as a natural antihistamine. As vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, it may act as an alternative treatment for allergies. Vitamin C is also found in many foods such as strawberries, kiwi, mango, citrus fruits (oranges and grapefruit), bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Dust Mite Covers – Dust mites are insects that live in our bedding, crawl on our skin and eat our dead skin cells. The average bed as 1,000,000 dust mites. Use dust mite covers on your pillows, mattress and box spring to decrease contact with dust mites and keep them from aggravating allergies at night. This material is so tightly bound that dust mites cannot get through.
- Reduce Exposure to Allergens – Try to stay indoors as much as possible, wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes, keep pets out of bedrooms, wash your hands after petting animals, and close windows and doors in your home.
- Cleanse Yourself of Pollen – If you have been outside, change your clothes and take off your shoes when you walk through the door so you don’t bring allergens into your home. Also take showers at night and wash your hair to help remove excess pollen.
OVER-THE-COUNTER (OTC) REMEDIES
When purchasing OTC medications, be sure to talk with your pharmacist to help you decide which product(s) would work best for your symptoms. They can also provide you with proper education and administration instructions.
- Nasal Corticosteroid Sprays such as Fluticasone (Flonase), Budesonide (Rhinocort), and Triamcinolone (Nasacort) – Help to reduce swelling and congestion in nose and sinuses.
- They work best when you use them everyday
- It may take 2 or more weeks of steady use for symptoms to improve
- Side effects: dryness, burning, stinging, and nose bleeds
- Oral Antihistamines such as Fexofenadine (Allegra), Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), Loratadine (Claritin), Cetirizine (Zyrtec) – Help to relieve sneezing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes.
- Can be bought as a pill, capsule, or liquid
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) causes the most drowsiness
- Side effects: dry mouth, constipation, and drowsiness
- Decongestants such as Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), Oxymetazoline (Afrin Nasal Spray) – Help to relieve stuffiness and pressure caused by swollen nasal tissue.
- Use over a short period, no longer than 3 days
- Sudafed products are found behind-the-counter at pharmacies and you must be 18 years or older to purchase with a valid ID (driver’s license or passport)
- Phenylephrine (Sudafed PE) is another OTC decongestant product, BUT it is no more effective than placebo for nasal congestion, so it is not recommended
- Side effects: insomnia, increased heart rate or blood pressure, nervousness
- Eye Drops such as Artificial Tears, Ketotifen Fumarate (Zaditor, Alaway) – Help to relieve itchiness, redness, burning, and swelling associated with eye allergies.
- There are many types of OTC eye drops including artificial tears, decongestants, antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, and anti-inflammatory drops
- Artificial tears are lubricants that help wash allergens out of the eyes.
- Only antihistamine eye drops are available at The Healthy Heels Shoppe and Student Stores Pharmacy that mainly work to relieve itchy eyes.
It is important to talk to your doctor before starting a new medication. Make sure that a new allergy medication won’t interfere with other medications or medical conditions. Additionally, if avoiding allergens and taking OTC medications is not enough to ease symptoms, make sure to contact your doctor to receive further medical care.
- S. National Library of Medicine. Allergic rhinitis self-care. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000547.htm. Updated January 28, 2019. Accessed March 6, 2019.
- Vollbracht C, Raithel M, Krick B, Kraft K, Hagel AF. Intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of allergies: an interim subgroup analysis of a long-term observational study. J Int Med Res. 2018;46(9):3640-3655.
- 14 Allergy Prevention Tips. Hotze Health. https://www.hotzehwc.com/2018/03/14-allergy-prevention-tips/. Published March 12, 2018. Accessed March 6, 2019.
- Family Doctor. Allergic rhinitis (Allergies). American Academy of Family Physicians. https://familydoctor.org/condition/allergic-rhinitis/?adfree=true. Updated December 8, 2017. Accessed March 6, 2019.
- Hay Fever and Allergy Medications. American Academy of Allergy and Immunology. https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/hay-fever-medications. Accessed March 6, 2019.