How to Nip Allergies in the Bud this Season

By Flora Sinha, M.D. and Carlene Link, Pharm.D., BCPS

Flora and I were thrilled to collaborate together on the topic of seasonal allergies for the #pharmfactfriday series I publish each week on Instagram.  The focus of the series is to collaborate with medical professionals of all different backgrounds where the medical professional chooses a topic in his or her specialty to provide succinct educational information.  The disease state and associated medication options are usually reviewed, and we both interact with the comments to ensure all questions are answered!

 

Spring allergies may begin as early as February, and fall allergies may last well into November.  Seasonal allergies can drive most sufferers crazy with ongoing symptoms that can be difficult to predict with triggers that can be hard to avoid.

 

Common symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy ears
  • Eye redness
  • Runny nose
  • Post nasal drip

 

An interesting fact: patients can still have symptoms even though allergen exposure may be reduced!

 

Oral antihistamines can be very helpful in treating seasonal allergies! These medications block histamine, a chemical released in your body, in response to an allergen.

 

Over the counter examples include:

  • Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert)
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  • Fexofenadine (Allergy)
  • Levocetirizine (Xyzal)
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

 

Potential side effects may include drowsiness (more with first generation antihistamines like Benadryl), dry mouth, and headache.

 

Antihistamine prescription nasal sprays can help with symptoms related to runny nose, post nasal drip, and postnasal drip. Prescription examples include Azelastine (Astelin) and Olopatadine (Patanase). Patients may experience adverse reactions such as bitter taste, bleeding, headache, runny nose

 

Antihistamine prescription and over the counter eye drops may relieve symptoms of itchy, red, dry eyes. Over the counter medications include, Pheniramine (Visine), while prescription medications such as Ketotifen or Olopatadine (Pataday) may help.

Headache, conjunctivitis, runny nose, rash, dry eye, mydriasis, altered taste are all possible side effects.

 

Nonmedical strategies, such as keeping windows and doors closed, showering and changing clothes after being outdoors, and monitoring pollen and mold counts, may help patients avoid allergen triggers.  

 

About the authors:

Dr. Flora Sinha is a board-certified internist, and Dr. Carlene Link is a board-certified clinical pharmacist. Both are passionate about creating educational, inspirational and motivational content. You can find Flora on Instagram and Carlene on Instagram, and reach them via email at FloraSinhaMD@gmail.com and drcarlenelink@gmail.com. 

 

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