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As the life cycle of plants starts over in the spring, pollen will be released and millions of people with hay fever will start to sniffle and sneeze. While there’s no one stop cure, there are a few steps you can take to relieve your allergies this season, including medication and household habits.

OTC and prescription meds

There are many medicines, both over the counter and prescription, that can ease the symptoms of allergies. These include antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and eye drops.

  • Antihistamines reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching by lowering the amount of histamine in your body. Histamine is a compound released by cells that causes contraction of smooth muscle and dilation of capillaries which leads to coughing, sneezing and tearing up.
  • Decongestants shrink the blood vessels in the nasal passageways to relieve congestion and swelling.
  • Antihistamine/decongestant combos combine the effects of both drugs.
  • Decongestants are also available as nasal sprays. They can relieve congestion and may clear clogged nasal passages. Steroid nasal sprays ease inflammation and are the preferred initial treatment. There are only three nasal sprays offered OTC: budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy), fluticasone (Flonase), and triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24HR).
  • Eye drops relieve itchy, watery eyes. Ketotifen (Zaditor) is a common OTC eye drop.

Natural Remedies

If you prefer to skip the medication and choose a natural remedy to relieve your allergies, then there are a few options available to you.

  • Nasal irrigation can be used to clear out mucus and open sinus passages. Combine warm water(must be distilled or sterile), ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp baking soda in a nasal irrigation device such as a squeeze bottle or neti pot. Tilt your head over a sink and gently squeeze the bottle or neti pot into one nostril, allowing it to drain through the other. It’s also important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.
  • Butterbur is a European shrub that can be used to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. Some studies show butterbur — specifically an extract called Ze 339 — to work as well as antihistamines at easing allergy symptoms.
  • Quercetin is a nutrient found in onions, apples, and black tea. Research has shown it possesses antihistamine properties.
  • Freeze dried stinging nettle leaves can also be used to treat allergy symptoms.

Tips/Habits

  • Avoid going outside when pollen count is high.The counts usually peak in the mornings.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed during the spring months to keep allergens out. An air purifier may also help.
  • Clean the air filters in your home often. Also, clean bookshelves, vents, and other places where pollen can collect.
  • Wash your hair after going outside, because the allergen can collect there.
  • Vacuum twice a week. Wear a mask, because vacuuming can kick up pollen, mold, and dust that were trapped in your carpet.

For your OTC allergy medication, come down to Walker’s Drug Store. We will be offering special discounts on certain items. Don’t let seasonal allergies keep you indoors, come talk with one of our certified pharmacists about an option that could work for you.