Choosing the right medication for seasonal allergies

Does the arrival of spring or summer bother you because you suffer from seasonal allergies? Find out how to properly manage your symptoms to minimize their impact on your life.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT MEDICATION FOR SEASONAL ALLERGIES

People who have to deal with the many inconveniences of seasonal allergies year after year are often in “solution-seeking” mode. With so many medications on the market today, it’s surprising how many people still aren’t getting adequate treatment. Yet when the season rolls around, TV and the Internet are rife with ads touting the benefits of allergy medications. The images are filled with runny noses, itchy eyes, red faces, and violent sneezing. If you think these images sound like a caricature of yourself during seasonal allergy season, you might be interested in the following.

ANTIHISTAMINES: THE BASIS OF TREATMENT

The following symptoms are characteristic of seasonal allergies:

  • sneezing;
  • itching (eyes, palate, nose);
  • tearing;
  • stuffy or runny nose.

These can all be treated with antihistamines, which are the first choice of treatment. Antihistamines are divided into two generations: the first and the second. The following table shows which group the most popular over-the-counter products fall into.

TABLE 1: 1ST AND 2ND GENERATION ANTIHISTAMINES.

1st generation antihistamines 2nd generation antihistamines
Dipenhydramine (Benadryl®, etc.) Loratadine (Claritin®, etc.)
Chlorpheniramine (ChlorTripolon®, etc.) Cetirizine (Reactine®, etc.)
Desloratadine (Aerius®, etc.)
Fexofenadine (Allegra®, etc.)

According to some references, desloratadine is part of a third generation of antihistamines.

The advantage of 2nd generation antihistamines is that they cause less drowsiness and dry mouth. Therefore, since allergy symptoms are also present during the day, the medication can be taken without altering daily activities. In addition, they are only taken once or twice a day, which constitutes a second advantage. These are the reasons that explain why they are used more today compared to first generation antihistamines. The dose needs to be adjusted in children, but these medications are safe for toddlers.

WHEN ANTIHISTAMINES ARE NOT ENOUGH…

Nasal congestion can be very bothersome. It is often part of the picture of seasonal allergies. Decongestants sprayed into the nose are a good option since their local action limits the occurrence of adverse effects. However, they cannot be used for more than three to five days in a row, otherwise they may cause chronic congestion. When congestion persists, decongestants taken by mouth, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, may be appropriate. However, you should not take these medications close to bedtime, as they could prevent you from sleeping. They can also cause other side effects, and above all, they are not suitable for everyone, such as children. It is advisable to always seek advice from your pharmacist before taking an over-the-counter decongestant, especially if you are taking other medications or suffer from chronic illnesses.

One of the interesting options to reduce symptoms, and especially congestion and nasal discharge, is the use of saline solutions. Cleaning the nasal passages with these also helps reduce the presence of pollens causing the symptoms. Very safe, this measure can be applied several times a day and benefits many individuals, young and old.

In cases of more severe nasal congestion, corticosteroid nasal sprays may also be prescribed by the doctor.

In addition, allergies can cause significant eye symptoms such as itching, watering and generalized redness of the white of the eye. When oral antihistamines are insufficient to relieve these symptoms, antihistamine eye drops are also available. Since these drops are behind the counter, you must ask the laboratory at the pharmacy to obtain them. If symptoms are severe, other agents are available by prescription.

TIPS FOR OPTIMAL USE OF MEDICATIONS

For seasonal allergy medications to be as effective and safe as possible, they must be taken the right way. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Start taking your oral antihistamines a few days before the allergy season begins to relieve your symptoms more quickly.
  • Make sure the medication you are taking does not make you drowsy before driving your car, operating machinery, or doing any other activity that requires alertness.
  • Never take more medicine than recommended.
  • If you have symptoms especially at night, choose first generation antihistamines. They will help you sleep better.
  • Avoid using a nasal spray decongestant for more than three to five days.
  • Discard eye drops 30 days after opening the bottle.

You don’t have to dread allergy season so much. Treating your symptoms with the right medications will help you enjoy the joys of spring and summer. While most of these products are available over the counter, some are not without risk if you have other health problems. Remember, your pharmacist is the expert on medications!

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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