With allergy season fast approaching, it’s important to start planning how to prevent and manage your allergies. Allergies are caused by triggers, also known as allergens, such as pollens or moulds. Common signs of seasonal allergies include watery, red, itchy eyes; sneezing; stuffy or runny nose; and itchy nose or throat following exposure to an allergen. These symptoms can be uncomfortable and make everyday life miserable, but there are ways to prevent them and keep them at bay so the warmer season can be productive and enjoyable. Follow the tips below to make the best of the upcoming season:
1) Use Prevention Strategies
Seasonal allergies usually occur in the spring and summer as a result of allergens in the air outdoors. Some tips include:
- Keeping doors and windows closed
- Decreasing outdoor exposure on days with high pollen or ragweed counts
- Keeping air conditioning on the indoor cycle if possible, and
- Showering after outdoor activity
Additionally, no matter what may be causing your seasonal allergies, avoiding tobacco smoke, insect sprays, air pollution, and fresh tar or paint is recommended to avoid further irritation.
2) Find the Right Products in Your Pharmacy
If prevention is not feasible or effective, other options may be appropriate to help you manage your symptoms. The following are some treatment options that do not require a prescription. Speak to your pharmacist to determine which would be best for you.
- Saline Sprays and Irrigations – Nasal saline sprays and irrigation products contain saltwater to help relieve a stuffy nose, allowing you to breathe better. Using these products may reduce your need to use drugs to relieve your symptoms.
- Antihistamines – Antihistamines can help relieve itchy/runny nose, sneezing, and itchy/watery eyes. They are most effective when taken prior to exposure to the allergen and may need to be continued for as long as allergen exposure occurs. Some antihistamines can also make you drowsy, so speak to your pharmacist about options that are non-drowsy for your comfort throughout the day.
- Decongestants – Decongestants are used to help with nasal congestion and are available as oral tablets or nasal sprays, but they may not be appropriate to use for all people. Additionally, decongestant nasal sprays are not recommended to be used for more than three to five days as they can cause a “rebound” effect where nasal congestion returns after the medication is stopped. Speak to your pharmacist about which options would be appropriate if you are affected by congestion.
- Corticosteroids – Corticosteroid nasal sprays help with relieving nasal symptoms and may provide some relief for itchy, watery eyes. They are reserved for moderate to severe cases or when other options, such as antihistamines, are not effective. Ask your pharmacist to ensure this is an appropriate option for you.
For more information on treatment options for special populations (including children and pregnant/breastfeeding mothers) please speak to your pharmacist.
Please note: The information provided on this site is not medical advice and is not intended to replace a consultation with your pharmacist or physician. If you have questions about your medication(s) or are experiencing a health concern, please talk to your pharmacist.