Allergy season is tough. It’s a constant stream of runny noses, watery eyes, coughs, sneezes, and if we’re being honest, grossed out coworkers. An allergic reaction is a specific response of the body’s immune system to a normally harmless substance called an allergen.
To help you navigate the rough waters that are allergy season, we’ve assembled a guide for what you need to know about common fall allergies so they don’t slow you down.
Do I have allergies or a cold?
Before you start taking any over-the-counter antihistamines or allergy relief products, you need to make sure your allergies aren’t something more severe. Oftentimes a cold can be mistaken for allergies, as they have similar symptoms and duration.
The chart below compares common symptoms to allergies to those of the common cold. Note that these are merely basic guidelines, and that if you have any questions about your allergies being more serious, you should speak with your doctor or consult a pharmacist.
|General Aches, Pains||Slight||Never|
|Itchy Eyes||Rare or never||Common|
What should I do about my allergies?
If you feel positive that your allergies are in fact allergies, there are several things you can do to reduce the effects. To find the best solution for you, consult your local Meijer pharmacist about the options outlined below.
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines are taken orally or as a nasal spray. They can relieve sneezing and itching in the nose and eyes. They reduce runny noses and, to a lesser extent, nasal stuffiness.
- Nasal Corticosteroids: Nasal corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medicines that help block allergic reactions. They are widely considered the most effective medication for allergic rhinitis, and can reduce all allergy-related symptoms. Unlike oral or injectable corticosteroids, they have few side effects. Note that combining a nasal antihistamine with a nasal corticosteroid can be more effective than either of the sprays alone.
- Decongestants: Oral and nasal decongestants help decrease swelling of the nasal passages, relieving nasal stuffiness. Decongestant nose drops and sprays are intended for short-term use (3-5 days). When used for more than a few days, these medicines may lead to even more congestion and swelling inside the nose, otherwise known as rebound congestion.
- Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists: Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists, such as the prescription drug montelukast (Singulair®), block the action of leukotrienes – the chemical messengers involved in allergic reactions.
- Cromolyn Sodium: Cromolyn sodium is a nasal spray that blocks the release of chemicals which cause allergy symptoms. The drug causes few side effects, but must be taken four times a day.
There’s no need to be a hero and fight through allergy season on your own. If you feel your allergies flaring up, speak with your Meijer pharmacist today about how you can beat them this fall.