How to Tackle Your Allergies This Spring

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from nasal allergies, making it one of the most common health issues in the country. Even if you’re not personally affected by seasonal allergies, chances are, you know somebody who is.

What causes spring allergies?

The leading cause of spring allergies is pollen. When a person has a pollen allergy, it basically means that their immune system interprets pollen as a threat to the body and releases antibodies to attack the pollen. This reaction triggers the release of histamines, resulting in the symptoms typical of seasonal allergies.

How are allergies diagnosed?

The best way to diagnose seasonal allergies is to see a licensed allergist. These specialists will usually ask for the patient’s medical history (to ensure that their testing doesn’t interfere with preexisting conditions or medications the patient may be taking). Once they’ve gathered their general background information, they can conduct what is called a “skin test” which usually entails a diluted allergen being applied to the surface of the patient’s skin with a small puncture. Any reaction (typically apparent as a red bump in the skin) acts as an indication that the body has reacted to the particular allergen.

Why is it important to get tested for allergies?

Understanding your health is the first step towards improving your health. If you know which specific allergens trigger responses in your body, it may be possible for you to make an effort to avoid those triggers and reduce the stress that allergies put on your immune system. Plus, you’ll feel better and function more fully.

What are some spring allergy symptoms?

As with most medical conditions, allergies can affect different people in different ways. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue

Of course, symptoms can vary in severity and some cases may require prescription medications. Some allergists can offer a series of shots that improve the body’s tolerance to certain irritants over time. However, mild allergy symptoms can usually be managed with over-the-counter options.

What are some examples of non-prescription allergy medicines?

If you’re looking for powerful allergy relief that you can purchase over the counter, there are a handful of popular options. Most modern allergy medicines use nondrowsy antihistamines that work to reduce the release of the histamine chemicals that cause symptoms inside the body. Some of the biggest brands include:

  • Claritin– The active ingredient in Claritin is loratadine. It is long acting, meaning that one dose can provide 24 hours of relief for most people.
  • Zyrtec– The active ingredient in Zyrtec is cetirizine. This medicine is fast acting, meaning that relief kicks in as quickly as one hour after the medicine is administered.
  • Flonase– For more severe spring allergies, Flonase acts on multiple inflammatory chemicals (not just histamine). Most Flonase products come in the form of nasal sprays and may take several days to take effect. Therefore, it is recommended that patients establish a routine daily dose.

With so many effective allergy medicines on the market, there’s no reason to suffer through allergy symptoms this spring. The best way to choose a product that’s right for you is to first consult your allergist or your family doctor. And remember that if you have any questions about the ingredients in OTC allergy medicines, you can always ask a Wiley’s pharmacist.