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Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal Allergies

Spring is in the air, along with those pesky allergens- substances that can cause sneezing fits, runny noses, and itchy eyes. While there are many irritants that can trigger allergic reactions, such as food, medication, insect bites, and animals, seasonal allergies (allergic rhinitis, hay fever) are generally caused by wind-borne pollen. Pollen comes from trees, weeds, grasses, and mold. Once inhaled, the pollen starts a chain reaction through your immune system, activating the release of histamine. The end result is

·         Inflammation: nasal congestion, sinus pressure, watering eyes, and sore throat

·         Increased mucus production: runny nose, post-nasal drainage (down the back of your throat), and cough

·         Itching: eyes, ears, roof of mouth, and throat

·         Sneezing

The seasonal release of pollen and the presence of hay fever symptoms tend to occur at the same time of year. Identifying your “bad seasons” is the first step to preventing allergy symptoms and possible illness (sinusitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, and ear infections). Should you want to prevent the effects of pollen, the second step is to consider allergy medications.

There are several types of over-the-counter medications that help block the body’s reaction to allergens (and the release of histamine). The most widely used class of drugs for allergies are anti-histamines. Once the anti-histamine medication is in your blood stream, you will be less likely to release histamines when exposed to pollen, which leads to fewer symptoms.

The key to taking allergy medication is to take it every day - before your symptoms begin, and to continue until the end of the allergy season - even if you are not having any symptoms. (Chances are you are not having allergy symptoms because you are taking the medication daily.)

When considering allergy medication, speak with your or your child’s provider about the best option(s) for you or your child. You can also consult with your local pharmacist. Should you be recommended an over-the-counter allergy medication, consider the following:

Over-The-Counter Medication Labels

Medications you can buy without a prescription are commonly referred to as over-the-counter (OTC) medications. It is very important to read the OTC drug’s label before taking any medication and follow the directions exactly. Per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, the following information must appear in the following order on all over-the-counter labels:

·         Active ingredient: The product's active (or main) ingredients, including the amount in each dosage unit

·         Purpose: Product action or category

·         Uses: Symptoms or diseases the product will treat or prevent

·         Warnings: When the product should not be used under any circumstances, and when it is appropriate to consult with a doctor or pharmacist. This section also describes side effects that could occur and substances or activities to avoid

·         Directions: Specific age categories, how much to take, how to take it, how often to take it, and for how long

·         Inactive ingredients: Inactive ingredients are added to make the pill or liquid easier to swallow, affect the absorption time and breakdown of the medication, and/or give it a pleasant taste and color

·         Other: Expiration date, lot or batch code, manufacturer, how much of the product is in each package, and/or what to do if an overdose occurs

Over-The-Counter Allergy Medications (generic name, brand name)

Pills: Anti-histamine examples include:

·         Brompheniramine

·         Cetirizine (Zyrtec)

·         Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton, Aller-chlor)

·         Clemastine (Tavist)

·         Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

·         Doxylamine (Unisom)

·         Fexofenadine (Allegra)

·         Levocetirizine (Xyzol)

·         Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert)

Eye Drops: Anti-histamine examples include:

·         Ketotifen ophthalmic (Zaditor, Alaway)

·         Pheniramine (anti-histamine)/Naphazoline ophthalmic (decongestant) (Naphcon A, Visine-A, Opcon-A)

Over-The-Counter Steroid Nose Sprays

Another allergy option is steroid nasal sprays. The steroid medication reduces sinus swelling and decreases mucus production. It is absorbed locally in the sinus tissue resulting in decreased runny nose, nasal congestion, and postnasal drainage.

Examples of the over-the-counter steroid nose sprays include:

·         Budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy spray)

·         Fluticasone (Clarispray, Flonase)

·         Mometasone (Nasonex)

·         Triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24HR)

In the event you are not obtaining relief with an over-the-counter allergy medication, speak with your provider about prescription medications that may be helpful.

For Your Information: The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology website contains a map of pollen counts in the U.S.: http://www.aaaai.org/global/nab-pollen-counts?ipb=1

Poisonous Plants: Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

Poisonous Plants: Ivy, Oak, and Sumac