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Seasonal Allergies

Posted on April 12, 2013

Spring is here and with it comes warmer weather! It is also a time for seasonal allergies, which can cause sneezing, coughing, runny or stuffed nose, and watery or itchy eyes.  Seasonal allergies are caused by exposure to allergens, such as pollen from trees, weeds, and other plants. Contact with allergens typically occurs from spring to the end of fall. This time of year can be tough for some, but do not fret; there are over-the-counter medications that can help control these symptoms!

What Over-the-Counter Medications can I take for Allergies?

Antihistamines: These block the action of histamines in your body and prevent allergy symptoms. Make sure to start taking these medications about 1-2 weeks prior to allergy season. For the best results, take them consistently and not just when you feel the symptoms starting.

Older: Bendadryl (Diphenhydramine), ChlorTrimeton (Chlorpheniramine)

  • These agents tend to work faster, but cause more side effects, like drowsiness and dry mouth
  • May need to be taken more than once a day

Newer: Claritin (Loratidine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine), Allegra (Fexofenadine)

  • These agents are typically taken once a day and have fewer side effects

Decongestants:  These help to relieve a stuffy nose by constricting blood vessels and opening the airways of the sinus.  If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor first before using decongestants.

Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)

  • Most effective oral decongestant
  • Side effects include difficulty sleeping, so do not take before bedtime
  • Does not require a prescription, but it is kept behind the pharmacy counter
  • Often found in combination products like Claritin-D or Allegra-D

Contact D (Phenylephrine)

  • An oral decongestant that is not as effective as Pseudoephedrine
  • It is available over-the-counter

Afrin (Oxymetazoline)

  • This decongestant is a nasal spray that works very fast to relieve stuffy nose
    • It is not recommended to use for more than 3 days

Eye Drops: These may help relieve watery or red eyes, itchiness, and burning.        

Artificial tears

  • May reduce dryness, burning, or irritation

Alaway or Zaditor (Ketotifen)

  • An antihistamine that may help with itchiness, redness, and watery eyes

 Naphcon (Naphazoline)

  • An eye decongestant that may help with watery eyes and redness
  • This product should not be used for more than 3 days

Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting new medications!!

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