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May 9, 2018

Tips for Allergy Season

Tips for Allergy Season

From Dr. Monica Rieckhoff, Westmed Pediatrician:

The great Spring weather is making for amazing blooms, but also lots of itchy, sneezing noses and watery eyes. The good news is that there are more great choices than ever for allergy treatment.  And some of the best of it is available now without a prescription at the pharmacy.

Is it a Cold or an Allergy?

First, do your best to make sure this is not a cold, which is an upper respiratory viral infection. Some clues to these viral infections would be green mucous in the eyes or nose. Also, fever may be present and is not caused by allergies.  A typical cold will gradually get worse and then peak around the third to the fifth day of an illness.  After that, symptoms gradually improve.

Allergy Treatment Options

Since allergies often bother you everywhere the pollen gets—the nose, eyes and the lungs—it can be best to take an oral medicine, an antihistamine, to treat everything. Good options are Zyrtec (or its generic cetirizine), Claritin or Allegra at bedtime. This medicine will last a whole day, and it usually doesn’t cause sleepiness.  If taste is an issue, then sometimes the brand names will taste better. If taste is not a factor, then you should feel confident using generics and their cost savings.

Eye Drops for Itchy Eyes

If despite an antihistamine, the eyes are still bothersome, you have options. But please remember to avoid eye rubbing.  It makes the eyes feel better temporarily, but then they get much worse, even with some swelling. Instead, use antihistamine eye drops first thing in the morning. You can put a cool cloth over the eyes to soothe them until the drops start to work. The drops can be instilled again in the afternoon.  Antihistamine drops are available without a prescription. There are store-branded generics or branded ones such as Zatidor and Alaway.

If a child has a hard time getting the drops in, you can try laying him/her with head in your lap and eyes closed. Then put a drop in the corner of the eye and tell him/her to open it, and the drop may flow in. If you’re not sure it went in, you can give another drop.

Nasal Sprays

Now for the nose: Nasal sprays are also now available without a prescription. They are anti-inflammatory steroids that work to block the allergic symptoms.  Some that are available include Flonase and Nasonex.  They work best if used every day during the pollen season.  It may take a few days to see an effect and up to two weeks to get to the full benefit.

Next Steps

If allergies still haven’t improved or you have questions, then check with your Westmed primary doctor or make an appointment with a Westmed allergist/immunologist. 

Whether it’s the trees of Spring, grasses of summer or weeds and leaves of fall, relief is available so you can really enjoy the seasons.