How to Prepare Yourself for Fall Allergies
Fall is just around the corner and while for many that means cider mills and pumpkin patches, for some it also means another dreaded season of allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the main cause behind fall allergies is ragweed, which is responsible for 75% of all hay fever. There are numerous other weed and grass pollens that are released into the air during fall causing symptoms like sneezing, coughing, runny nose and eyes, and itchy throat. Listed below are some tips to help prepare you for the upcoming season.
Before you take any medications to help fight off the fall allergies, make sure to take time to vacuum and clean the house to get rid of dust mites and mold. Comforters and bed sheets should be washed for the season and clothes worn during the fall should be washed often to avoid spreading pollen in the household. Pets should generally be kept out of the bedroom and household plants should be removed as well. Opening windows may be refreshing, especially during fall, but it is not recommended if you are suffering from severe allergies.
In addition to cleaning the house, using Nasaflo® Neti Pot on a regular basis can help thin the mucus buildup and flush away any allergens that may have accumulated in your sinuses. For those who are unfamiliar, the Neti Pot treatment is using warm water solution with salt to help irrigate your sinuses and thus keep them clean from allergens and thick mucus.
Over-the-counter medications can also be used to help provide better relief of allergies.
For watery and itchy eyes: Start out with artificial tears once or twice daily to help lubricate the eyes. If the tears do not help after about a week or two, then try Zaditor® eye drops twice or three times daily. Zaditor® works as an antihistamine to block histamine action and stabilizes mast cells in the eye to prevent release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators. These eye drops are not known for any major (or even minor) side effects, so using them longer then two weeks is acceptable. However, if the eye drops do not seem to be working, talking with the pharmacist for other alternatives or the doctor for prescription strength medications will be the natural next step.
For runny nose, sneezing, and congestion: These common allergy symptoms can usually be relieved by using an intranasal corticosteroid, such as Flonase® or Nasonex®. These corticosteroids stop production of histamine and other substances by blocking the “allergic cascade.” Since it blocks production of six types of substances, including histamine that cause allergy symptoms, the nasal sprays work very well to relieve allergy symptoms. Instill 2 sprays in each nostril once or twice daily and this medication should start to work in about a week’s time. There may be some side effects like discomfort and nosebleeds, but nasal sprays are generally well tolerated.
Another option is to try taking antihistamine pills, such as Claritin® or Allegra®. These tablets are non-drowsy so that it does not get in the way of daily activities and they rarely cause any side effects. They may not be as effective as intranasal corticosteroids but they work essentially in the same manner. Onset of relief should be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and the effects should generally last the entire day. If neither the intranasal corticosteroids nor antihistamine tablets work, then consult the pharmacist for alternative solutions or contact your doctor for prescription strength medications.
For more information, check out these sites or come into the pharmacy to speak with a pharmacist.
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
©Paul Ko, PharmD Candidate 2020 / Dexter Pharmacy 2017
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