Local pharmacists offer suggestions on how to handle allergy symptoms

Seasonal Allergies 

Local pharmacists offer suggestions on how to handle allergy symptoms.

By Anissa Marzuki and Tara Storjohann

 

QUESTION: I have bad allergies! What can I do to get rid of these pesky symptoms?

ANSWER: Seasonal allergies can be a curse for many people during the spring and fall months when the beautiful desert weather is the envy of all our out-of-state friends. Those beautiful spring blooms and fall leaves spell doom and gloom for many seasonal allergy sufferers.

Sometimes seasonal allergies are referred to as “allergic rhinitis” or “hay fever.” According to the Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, symptoms can include itchy nose, roof of mouth, throat, and eyes. Common symptoms also include sneezing, congestion, cough, and may also impact concentration/mood and impair one’s ability to think clearly. These symptoms often plague sufferers and can affect both personal and professional lives.

Seasonal allergies are common and can sometimes be managed without medications. Things such as avoiding allergens (staying indoors when the pollen count is high), using a dehumidifier to reduce moisture, and cleaning often (to remove allergy-inducing dust and mold) may help reduce symptoms. However, in the circumstances where allergens cannot be avoided, over-the-counter remedies are available to help control symptoms.

Many over-the-counter medications are available to help with symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Oral medications, nasal sprays, and eye drops are among the plethora of medications in the allergy/cold aisle at your local drug store or supermarket. The table below shows some common allergy symptoms and medications to help resolve them, along with common side effects.

Symptoms Over-the-Counter Medication Options Side Effects
Itching nose, roof of mouth, throat, and eyes Oral antihistamine:

·      Cetirizine (Zyrtec)

·      Fexofenadine (Allegra)

·      Levocetirizine (Xyzal)

·      Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin)

·      Drowsiness and dizziness

·      Dry mouth

·      Fatigue

·      Headache

·      Cold-like symptoms

Sneezing Same as above Same as above
Stuffy nose/ Congestion Nasal corticosteroids:

·      Budesonide (Rhinocort)

·      Fluticasone furoate (Flonase Sensimist)

·      Fluticasone propionate (Flonase)

·      Triamcinolone (Nasacort)

 

Nasal decongestants:

·      Oxymetazoline (Afrin)

Nasal corticosteroids:

·      Headache

·      Dizziness

·      Runny nose

·      Flu-like symptoms

 

Nasal decongestants:

·      Dry nose

·      Rebound nasal congestion (chronic use, limit use to <3 days)

·      Nose irritation

·      Sneezing

Runny nose Nasal corticosteroids Same as above
Watery eyes ·      Ketotifen (Zaditor)

·      Naphazoline (Vasocon, Albalon)

·      Naphazoline/pheniramine (Naphcon-A, Opcon-A, Visine-A)

·      Burning/stinging

·      Discharge

·      Dilated pupils

·      Dry eyes

·      Eye pain

Cough Cough suppressant:

·      Dextromethorphan (Delsym)

 

Mucus thinner:

·      Guaifenesin (Mucinex)

Cough suppressant:

·      Confusion

·      Nervousness and irritability

 

Mucus thinner:

·      Nausea and vomiting

·      Dizziness

·      Headaches

·      Skin rash

Of all these options, nasal sprays may be the preferred form for many reasons since they are effective for the majority of the major allergy symptoms. The benefit of nasal sprays is that they work locally at the site of nasal symptoms, decreasing side effects to the rest of the body. However, it’s very important to consult your pharmacist or health-care provider prior to selecting any over-the-counter medication to ensure that the medication is a safe treatment option for you based on your age and medical history. Symptoms that do not subside or get worse, even when taking over-the-counter medications, may require further medical evaluation. Consult your local pharmacist or doctor as other medications and treatments are available with a prescription that may work to resolve seasonal allergy symptoms that still linger.

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