While there is a range of common allergy symptoms, individuals vary with how they present and certain symptoms are more severe in some and milder in others. The most common allergy symptoms during pollen season are:
There are several classes of OTC allergy drugs. These include:
- Older generation antihistamines tablets (i.e. Benadryl)
- Newer generation antihistamine tablets (i.e. Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, Xyzal, etc.)
- Nasal steroid sprays (i.e. Nasonex, Nasacort, Flonase, Sensimist etc.)
- Antihistamine eyedrops (i.e. Zaditor, Alaway)
Antihistamine tablets are a good first line option for many with mild allergies. However, these tablets DO NOT help with a stuffy or congested nose. These meds can be taken once a day as needed because they have a quick onset. The older generation and some newer generation antihistamines (Zyrtec, Xyzal) can cause drowsiness, so be careful about this. I recommend trying them at nighttime as the drowsiness sometime wears off in the morning even though they last for 24 hours.
If you have a stuffy nose or moderate allergy symptoms, then using a nasal steroid spray is the most appropriate nasal first line therapy. These sprays will help with all of the symptoms mentioned above (even the eyes to some extent). Nasal steroid sprays are more effective when taken daily throughout the season, although they also work on an as-needed basis. While you may be concerned about using steroids, rest assured these drugs have very little systemic effects and therefore the risk of adverse effects is very low.
The eye drops can be taken when taken as needed, but they will be more effective when taking daily or twice daily during the season as they work in a preventive fashion.
So while you can’t live in a bubble to prevent your allergies, you can certainly try these medications for starters. Please call your allergist or ENT specialist for further evaluation and treatments (such as allergy shots and allergy drops).
We hope you get to enjoy the spring outdoors with these few tips!