Allergy symptoms can often be relieved through the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications and nasal sprays. Medical therapy provides short-term relief, and may be enough of a solution for people with seasonal allergies or those whose symptoms are not severe. People in North Sioux City whose symptoms do not improve with the use of medications should consult with an allergist about alternative treatments such as immunotherapy.
Medications for Allergy Relief
Antihistamines are often the go-to drug for treating allergy symptoms. They work by reducing or blocking histamines, chemicals produced by the immune system that are responsible for many common allergy symptoms including runny nose, stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes. They are available in tablets, capsules, liquids, nasal sprays and eye drops. Antihistamines can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness and nausea, though newer generation antihistamines have fewer side effects. Popular antihistamines include:
When your allergy symptoms include a stuffed-up nose, you’re better off using a decongestant for relief. Decongestants shrink swollen blood vessels and tissues that line the nose. They can be found in pills, liquids, nasal sprays and nose drops, and are available over-the-counter or by prescription. Decongestants may increase anxiety or cause sleeping difficulty. If you have a medical condition such as glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disorder, diabetes or enlarged prostate, consult with a doctor before using. Common decongestants include:
In addition, many antihistamines also contain a decongestant (Allegra-D, Claritin-D, Tavist-D, etc.).
Nasal corticosteroids are nasal sprays that help to reduce inflammation of the nasal lining associated with allergies. They can be extremely effective at relieving symptoms, but may cause nosebleeds, nasal dryness and sore throat. Nasal corticosteroids are generally safe to use long-term. They are usually available by prescription only. Common brands include:
Decongestant nasal sprays are generally available over-the-counter. They provide short-term relief from nasal allergy symptoms, but wear off quickly. Overuse can lead to a “rebound effect” in which symptoms worsen. Patients are advised not to use decongestant nasal sprays for longer than three days. Popular brands include:
- Vicks Sinex
Allergy eye drops help relieve the symptoms of eye allergies. People experiencing itchy or watery eyes, a burning sensation in the eyes, redness and swelling can benefit from either over-the-counter or prescription eye drops. They are available in several different types including antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, decongestants and mast cell stabilizers. Some of the more common brands include:
- Clear Eyes
- Claritin Eye
Mast cell inhibitors are medications that prevent allergy symptoms such as runny nose or itchy, watery eyes from occurring. They work by inhibiting the release of histamines the immune system produces in response to allergens such as pollen. They are available in the form of nasal sprays and eye drops, and must be taken a week or two before the start of allergy season and continued on a daily basis for the duration of the season.
How to Treat Allergies with Non-Pharmacologic Therapy
The best way to treat allergy symptoms is to completely avoid allergens. Although this may be impossible, certain behaviors, called non-pharmacologic therapy, can help minimize them. Here are a few simple things you can do to reduce the presence of allergens in your home:
- Encase your mattress and pillows in dust mite-proof cases. Wash all your bedding in hot water at least once a week.
- Remove carpeting from your home and replace it with an easy-to-clean material such as hardwood or linoleum. If the carpeting cannot be removed, vacuum and shampoo it regularly.
- Use only washable window coverings, such as cotton or synthetic curtains.
- During pollen season, keep your windows closed.
- Get rid of clutter, including any knickknacks that sit on tables collecting dust.
- Invest in a HEPA air filtration system to remove small allergen particles from the air.
- Do not keep potted plants in the house.
- Avoid using a wood-burning fireplace or stove; the smoke will worsen respiratory allergies.
- Wash the sink regularly and don’t let dishes pile up. Dirty dishes and food buildup can create a breeding ground for mold.
- Wash or replace moldy shower curtains and bathmats.
- Keep your house below 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Dust mites and mold breed best in hot, humid conditions.
- Don’t allow smoking inside your home.
- If possible, rehome your pet. If not, make sure to bathe them once a week and keep them out of your bedroom and off the furniture.
Call Ear, Nose & Throat Consultants at (605) 217-4320 for more information or to schedule an appointment.