Spring is upon us. For many, that means trips to the beach, walks, outdoor meals and events. For others, it means sniffling, sneezing and sinus pressure. Pollen, ragweed and more can send droves of people inside in the blink of an eye. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. So what can be done to combat this ever growing problem?
There is a good selection of allergy medications available for purchase over the counter these days. This is often the first line of seasonal allergy defense. Antihistamines treat many symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes and dry cough. They work by counteracting with the histamine naturally found in the body. There are several options available to choose from. Most pharmacists agree, excluding diphenhydramine, one is not better than the other. It is a matter of personal preference. Some may work better for some people than for others.
- Loratadine (Claritin)
- Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- Fexofenadine (Allegra)
- Levocetirizine (Xyzal)
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
Out of all the options available, diphenhydramine is the strongest. However, it also has the shortest life span. Where as the rest of the antihistamines are once a day products, it can be taken every 4 to 6 hours. The downside, unfortunately, is that is causes drowsiness. Many people often take a once daily option in the morning and opt for diphenhydramine before bedtime for ultimate protection.
Thanks to a few expired patents, consumers are now able to purchase steroidal nasal sprays over the counter. Because they previously required a prescription, many people are finding relief dye to the increased availability. These sprays, called nasal corticosteroids, work by decreasing swelling and mucus in the nasal passages. What a win in defeating allergies!
- Fluticasone (Flonase)
- Triamcinolone (Nasacort)
- Budesonide (Rhinocort)
Another option that can be tried as well is Afrin. However, it has a major drawback. Because it is a decongestant, it can only be used for three consecutive days. Using it more than this will lead to rebound congestion. That will only further the problem.
Pseudoephedrine, commonly known as Sudafed, is often the best line of defense when it comes to fighting sinus allergies, pressure and congestion. It also aids in relieving the headaches and ear pain that come along with it. It comes with its fair share of complications, though. Do not take this medication if high blood pressure is an issue for you. It has a stimulant effect, which has the potential to raise blood pressure rates. If yours is already high, this is not something that should be taken lightly. Pseudoephedrine is also highly regulated. Because it is an ingredient used illegally to make methamphetamine, each state has its own laws surrounding purchases. Some states, such as Mississippi, require a prescription from your physician. Other states will require photo identification and have maximum monthly purchase limits.
There are several natural ways to boost your immunity this season. Raw, local honey helps block histamine and is a terrific immune booster. When purchased locally, it will contain pollen that is native to your area. This is beneficial because it introduces small amounts into your system. Elderberry is a great option as well. Many health professionals even recommend consumption during cold and flu season because it works so well. It is commercially available in liquid, capsule and chewable forms. It is jam packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
With a little trial and error, you can be on the road to recovery quickly. Seasonal allergies don’t have to stop you from enjoying the great outdoors this year. As with any medication, consult your physician or pharmacist before making your purchase. They will ensure you have the right and safe medications.