Seasonal allergies

Seasonal allergies are most commonly caused by pollens from trees, grasses, or weeds. Mold spores are another common cause of allergy symptoms.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies include runny nose, sneezing, stuffy nose, cough, itchy or red eyes, sore throat or itching.

Over-the-Counter Treatment:

            1. Nasal rinses: Multiple forms are available over-the-counter including neti pot and rinse bottles. These work by rinsing the pollen out of the nose, thereby reducing exposure.

            2. Steroid nasal sprays: Flonase (fluticasone) and Nasacort are the most common forms. These work by reducing the swelling, congestion, and mucus production. These are best used daily, and may take a few weeks to see the full effect. May cause minor nasal irritation or nose bleeds.

            3. Antihistamines: Numerous over-the-counter forms are available: allegra (foxofenadine), claritin (loratidine), zyrtec (cetirizine), etc. Reduce itching, sneezing, and runny nose. Most commonly cause fatigue.

            4. Decongestants: Phenylephrine, sudafed, Afrin (oxymetazoline). Reduce stuffy nose symptoms. Do not take if you have high blood pressure as these medications can raise your blood pressure. Do not use for more than a few days in a row, particularly the nasal sprays, as they can worsen symptoms with long term use.

            5. Some people benefit from a combination of the above treatments.

Prescription Treatment:

If the over-the-counter treatments are not sufficiently covering your symptoms contact your doctor about these other treatments.

            1. Singulair: A daily pill which may reduce symptoms of runny nose and congestion.

Specialist Treatment:

            If these treatments fail to adequately control allergy symptoms, the next step would be a referral to an allergist. At the allergist appointment you will likely undergo skin testing to see which pollens or molds may be causing your symptoms. This involves injecting small amounts of the allergen into your skin to check for color change or swelling. Once the allergen is identified, you may be able to be treated with weekly allergy shots or daily tablets which dissolve under the tongue. These shots and tablets contain small amounts of the allergen as well and allow your body to slowly build tolerance to them. These take several months to work, but are very effective at reducing allergy symptoms.

Allergy prevention:

            1. Start your allergy medication a couple of weeks prior to the season which triggers your allergies.

            2. Stay inside as much as possible, keeping windows closed, and keeping car windows closed.

            3. Take a shower before bed to rinse pollens off of your body.

            4. Use an air purifier in your bedroom at night.