Fighting Allergies

March 29, 2022 by Dr. Leslie Saltzman

If you’re one of the 50 million Americans who suffers from allergies, your symptoms may bloom when the seasons shift. Itchy, watery eyes, a tickly throat, and a stuffy, runny nose can make you dread spring. Seasonal allergies — also called hay fever and allergic rhinitis — can make you miserable. Try these simple strategies to keep seasonal allergies under control.

Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers

To reduce your exposure to the things that trigger your allergy signs and symptoms (allergens):

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Delegate sweeping, weed pulling and other outdoor chores that stir up allergens.
  • Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Wear a mask if you do outside chores.

Take extra steps when pollen counts are high

Seasonal allergy signs and symptoms can flare up when there’s a lot of pollen in the air. These steps can help you reduce your exposure:

  • Check for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels at pollen.com
  • If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
  • Close doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.

Keep indoor air clean

There’s no miracle product that can eliminate all allergens from the air in your home, but these suggestions may help:

  • Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
  • If you have forced-air heating or air conditioning in your house, use high-efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules.
  • Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.
  • Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom.
  • Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.

Try an over-the-counter remedy

Several types of nonprescription medications can help ease allergy symptoms. They include:

  • Nasal sprays. The intranasal corticosteroids, Nasacort, Flonase, and Rhinocort, are the most effective OTC medications for the treatment of nasal allergy symptoms. A downside to them is that they will not work on an as-needed basis. Intranasal corticosteroids take time to work. They may begin to give relief to allergy symptoms after about six to 10 hours, but full relief may not be obtained for three to six weeks with daily use.
  • Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes. Examples of oral antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy) and fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy).
  • Decongestants. Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol, others) can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Decongestants also come in nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine). Only use nasal decongestants for a few days in a row. Longer-term use of decongestant nasal sprays can actually worsen symptoms (rebound congestion).
  • Combination medications. Some allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Examples include loratadine-pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D) and fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D).

If these measures don’t work, please schedule an appointment.

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