As we approach the spring and summer months, many of us are excited for the snow to melt and flowers to bloom, while others are dreading their seasonal allergies that inevitably come along with the warm weather.  Seasonal allergies can be bothersome and frustrating for many, especially those who like to spend time outside.

Signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies:

Generally, if you get seasonal allergies, you know the symptoms right away. They can often be linked to a trigger such as exposure to pollen or mold during certain times of the year.  Seasonal allergies occur when your immune system reacts to allergens in the air, resulting in a release of chemicals in your body including histamine.  Some common symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Itchy eyes

There are many things you can do to help with these allergies- including using over-the-counter medication and changing some habits to limit exposure to pollen.

Choosing an over-the-counter allergy product:

The selection of over-the-counter allergy products can be overwhelming as there are many to choose from.  When choosing a product, the severity of your symptoms is often the determining factor in what type of product you should pick.

Nasal sprays containing steroids, such as mometasone furoate and fluticasone propionate, are often the best choice for treating moderate to severe or persistent allergies.  Many people tend to gravitate towards the different pill options for their allergies, but in many cases a steroid nasal spray is a better option.  These nasal sprays work when used over a period of time by helping to reduce any inflammation that may be causing your allergy symptoms.  They work best when used every day rather than only occasionally.  The benefit with these products may be seen within a few hours, however, it also may take a few days of consistent use to see the full benefit that the steroid nasal spray can provide.  Many of these products are available over-the-counter; a pharmacist can help you determine a product that might be best for you and give you advice on how to use the device.

Aside from nasal sprays, oral antihistamines, commonly known as allergy pills, are another allergy-relief option.  These medications work best for people experiencing mild or occasional allergy symptoms.   Most medications in this group work similarly and equally as well as others.  Sometimes, people must try a few different medications to find one that works best for them.  These medications work best if taken before exposure to an allergen.  Some of these medications can cause drowsiness and may interact with other medications you may be taking or medical conditions.  Please remember to always consult your pharmacist when choosing a new over-the-counter product.

Reducing your exposure to allergens:

Avoiding allergens like pollen and mold in the spring and summer months may be beneficial in reducing your seasonal allergy symptoms.  Some tips to reduce your exposure to outdoor allergens are:

  • keep your windows closed when driving or at home
  • do not hang your clothes outside to dry
  • avoid mowing the lawn/gardening if possible
  • decrease your time outside during windy days
  • check your local news/weather updates for pollen counts and try to avoid time outside during periods when the pollen count is high

If your seasonal allergies become too bothersome even with the use over-the-counter products and reduced pollen exposure, it may be a good idea to see your doctor.  Allergy tests to determine what you’re allergic to or prescription medication may be a next step to help minimize your seasonal allergies.