With hay fever/ ragweed season knocking on our doors, we have to decide what treatment options to use. Though we’d really just like to slam the door and say “We don’t want any!” we really don’t have a choice. Even those who aren’t debilitated by these allergies can show some symptoms. So what treatment do you choose? Do you go heavy and suffer the side effects? Do you only use something when you are really desperate and risk the effects of the allergies hitting hard? Do you go alternative, OTC, prescription? Luckily, there are a lot of options today, so here is a brief overview of what we have:
Antihistamines — When you inhale an allergen, special cells in your nose and sinuses release a chemical called histamine. Histamine causes the tissues in your nose to itch and swell, and to create clear and runny mucus. Antihistamine medicines block histamine from interacting with the nasal tissues, thus preventing symptoms. These are medicines like Benadryl.
Decongestants — In response to an allergen, the tissues in your nose swell, and increase their production of fluid and mucus. As a result, you might feel fullness or pressure in your nose and head (congestion), and you might have trouble breathing through your nose. Decongestants help reduce the swelling, which relieves the feeling of pressure and improves airflow through your nose. Medicines like Sudafed.
Antihistamine/Decongestants – These medicines combat symptoms including the runny nose and itchy eyes as well as the swollen, congested pressure from allergies. Medicines like Actifed or Tavist D.
Nasal Sprays – These come in many forms, including, antihistamines, cortisones, saline and decongestants. Antihistamine forms and saline can be purchased OTC, while most decongestant forms and all cortisone forms need a prescription as they have to be used much more carefully.
Prescription Medicine – You can go with prescription antihistamines which won’t the cause the sedation that comes from OTC antihistamines. There area few out there like Clarinex and Allegra.
Homeopathic – Many people swear by their homeopathic solutions, though there is no hard evidence. Some things to try if you do not want to ingest medicine would be a neti pot, saline nasal drops, or certain teas and herbs, like Rooibos tea or upping your intake of carotenoid rich food which include carrots and sweet potatoes.
Long lasting treatments – Some people choose to go the route of immunotherapy (allergy shots) or acupuncture to rid themselves of the allergic reactions altogether. These both consist of multiple sessions but do have very good results.
Your treatment plan should depend on a number of factors, including severity of allergy and medical beliefs. You may do just fine with a saline solution and some Benadyl or you may need something more invasive. It is a good idea to always know your options, though, so hopefully, this will help you out in living a healthy allergy season!