Survival Tips for Spring Allergies

The other day I went out to drive to work only to discover a thick layer of yellow dust all over my newly washed car. Pollen, and lots of it too! In a flash I could feel my nose starting to itch and my eyes blurring up with tears, and then the sneezing began. Spring allergy season arrived with a vengeance this year.

Perhaps you know all too well the signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis. The red, watery eyes. The itchy nose and non-stop sneezing. After a week or two sinus congestion settles in and you can’t smell or taste anything anymore. For some people, it can mean staying indoors to avoid the allergy triggers, or possibly tossing and turning night after night because you can’t breathe through your sore, plugged nose.

The good news is that there is relief to be found, and you can enjoy the summer sun and beaches without having to wear a mask or carry a backpack full of Kleenex.

The first and perhaps the most important part to a successful treatment plan for itchy, irritated sinuses is an effective saline rinse routine. Whether you choose a commercial saline stream, or a refillable rinse bottle, or a neti pot, performing a thorough sinus rinse with saline on a daily basis will go a long way to cleansing and removing many of the irritating allergens that are causing all the trouble. For many people, this routine has been enough to provide relief and put an end to their allergy symptoms.

If two or three weeks have gone by, and the saline rinses are not doing the job, you may benefit from the addition of a long acting antihistamine. There are many of them on the market now, and they all come in a once a day formulation. These medications help to block the histamine release that causes all the itchiness and congestion. Some people find that over time, the antihistamine they are using seems to lose its effectiveness. This is called tolerance, and can be solved by switching to an alternative antihistamine product to regain the full benefits.

Recently, Health Canada approved the sale of some Glucocorticoid nasal sprays over the counter. Products like Flonase and Nasacort are now available to purchase from your pharmacy. When used on a routine basis, these nasal sprays reduce the inflammation and congestion caused by allergic rhinitis and help you to breathe clearly again. Be sure to talk to your pharmacist about the safest way to use these sprays and get the most benefit from them.

Finally, if after trying all these treatments you are still suffering with congestion and perhaps have lost your appetite and numerous nights of sleep, be sure to schedule an appointment with your family doctor for a more complete assessment of your symptoms.

Have a wonderful summer, and may you enjoy all the amazing sights and smells of the season without a single sneeze!

Robert Beingessner, Pharmacy Manager
Imagine Health Pharmacy

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