Spring is here, which means all of you spring allergy sufferers will once again have to treat your sneezes and coughs. If you suffer from hay fever, your symptoms will determine which treatment for allergies works best for you.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 50 million Americans suffer with allergies—including seasonal allergies, like hay fever—every year. Sneezing, a runny nose, watery or itchy eyes, and coughing are some of the most common allergy symptoms. If you have asthma, preventing allergy symptoms is especially important because allergies can cause your airways to narrow and lead to wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Different types of treatment for allergies are available in every pharmacy, so it’s important that you know what each one does to understand if it can help you.
There are four categories of over-the-counter medications that offer allergy relief: antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and eye drops.
There are three classes of antihistamines—ethanolamines, alkylamines, and ethylenediamines—which work to block the effects of histamine, which the body produces in reaction to allergies. Some cause more drowsiness that others, so the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America suggests trying each class to determine which one works best for you.
Some antihistamines offer 8 to 12 hours of relief. But for faster relief, try a 4-hour antihistamine which is designed to work within 20 minutes.
Depending on the type you choose, antihistamines can reduce allergy symptoms by as much as 80%. However, for an antihistamine to be successful, it must be taken routinely. If you notice that your antihistamine makes you drowsy if you take it during the day, don’t blame the treatment—just try taking it before you go to bed.
Antihistamines can provide the most relief if you suffer from the following allergy symptoms:
- Runny or itchy nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
A decongestant relieves the swelling and congestion caused by allergens by narrowing blood vessels to reduce blood flow to your nasal passages. This helps to improve breathing so you can clear mucus from these passageways. For this reason, decongestants are a good treatment for allergies that cause a stuffy or runny nose but not those that cause sneezing and itching.
Some over-the-counter medications offer a combination of an antihistamine and a decongestant to relieve congestion and keep your body from producing histamine. This combination works well for allergy-sufferers who experience more than one kind of allergy symptom.
Oral decongestants come in the form of both tablets and liquids. But, if you want to specifically unclog your nose, decongestant nasal sprays are a good choice.
#3: Nasal Sprays
A nasal spray is a liquid decongestant that can relieves congestion by inhibiting chemical releases that cause you to experience allergy symptoms. Nasal sprays generally clear clogged nasal passages quicker than an oral decongestant.
To effectively manage your symptoms, nasal sprays should be used prior to and throughout the allergy season. The majority of effective nasal steroid sprays require a prescription, but certain brands like Flonase and Nasacort are available without one.
#4: Eye Drops
Eye drops are ideal for those who need the most relief from itchy, watery eyes that result from seasonal allergies. Although there are non-prescription eye drops available, prescription eye drops are much more effective because they contain an antihistamine and a decongestant.
If you have questions about your symptoms and which treatment for allergies is right for you, just ask the pharmacists at Smith-Caldwell Drug Store by calling 501-392-5470. No matter the season, we are always happy to help!