The Secret To An Easier Allergy Season!
Tue, Apr 4, 2017
The spring allergy season begins next month, and if you want to avoid symptoms, you must act now. "Pretreating allergies will lead to better control of symptoms, and maybe prevent symptoms from showing up," says Dr. Ahmad Sedaghat, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
Those chemicals, however, also trigger watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and a sore throat—a gooey mess known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis). "The impact of allergies goes beyond discomfort. Your sleep is worse, you're more tired in the morning, and your quality of life suffers," says Dr. Sedaghat.
Blocking your defenses
It's also because the reaction to even a few allergens has a snowball effect. "Once the reaction starts, it's hard to stop," Dr. Sedaghat explains. "More inflammatory cells are recruited to the nose and sinuses, symptoms become more severe, and it's difficult to treat them." Instead, he suggests that it's better to block the reaction before it begins, which prevents symptoms or lessens their severity, and keeps irritation from progressing to sinusitis or an asthma flare-up.
The right medications
Another medication that can be taken in advance of anticipated symptoms is an antihistamine, which counteracts the effects of histamine. "It's not as effective as nasal steroid sprays, but it can be very good at preventing symptoms," says Dr. Sedaghat.
But antihistamines can be risky for older adults. Some antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can cause drowsiness, leading to falls. Dr. Sedaghat suggests avoiding it.
Better options include the antihistamines fexofenadine (Allegra) or loratadine (Claritin), available over the counter. Those drugs are less likely to cause drowsiness.
Safer than oral antihistamines are prescription antihistamine sprays, such as azelastine (Astelin) and olopatadine (Patanase), which may help prevent the symptoms of sneezing and a runny nose while minimizing drowsiness. Antihistamine eyedrops, such as ketotifen (Zaditor), available over the counter, and olopatadine (Patanol), available by prescription, can be used to prevent watery eyes.
Another option is allergy shots to help reduce allergic symptoms, but that approach can take three to five years to be fully effective. This is usually a last resort for people who don't respond to medications and do not have asthma.
What you should do
Many thanks to the Harvard Health Letter for this information!!