At the end of a long winter, most of us welcome the sight of flowers and green shoots peeking out from the garden beds, but if you suffer from spring allergies, these blossoms represent the return of pollen and allergens that may make your life extra challenging.
More than 40 million individuals suffer from seasonal allergies in North America. An allergy occurs when your body overreacts to specific substances called allergens, often referred to as triggers. Although usually harmless, in certain susceptible individuals an allergen is recognized as a foreign substance, which your body starts to defend against. In this case, your immune system releases chemicals known as histamines, which are one of your body’s defence against foreign invaders (allergens). When too much histamine is released, the result is only too familiar for many of us – nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes. Very severe allergic reactions may result in difficulty breathing or an asthma attack and can be life threatening.
You may develop an allergy at any point during your life, although in most individuals symptoms begin early on in life. If you suffer from asthma or eczema, or if one or both parents suffer from spring allergies, you also have a higher chance of developing seasonal allergies.
The most effective way to deal with an allergy is to try and avoid contact with it. For some of you, this may mean limiting outdoor time during allergy season. However, this isn’t always practical or possible. That’s where an antihistamine may be helpful. Antihistamines work to block the action of histamine resulting in fewer or milder allergy symptoms. Allegra is a non-sedating antihistamine formulated with fexofenadine, that helps relieve hay fever symptoms including watery eyes, runny nose, itching eyes, and sneezing. It is available in 12 and 24 hour relief formulas. Clarinex (marketed as Aerius in Canada) is another non-drowsy formulation containing desloratadine, which is especially effective in relieving nasal congestion. It is also available as Clarinex Syrup for Kids.
Here are a few more tips to help you say goodbye to allergies and hello to Spring:
- Antihistamines are more effective when taken before the symptoms start
- Wash your hands and face when entering the house to minimize the amount of pollen carried indoors
- Take a shower before bedtime to wash off allergens and avoid a night of congestion and sneezing
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether a change in your diet might help ease your symptoms
If a non-prescription formulation doesn’t provide relief, then pay a visit to your physician who can prescribe something that may help to better alleviate your symptoms.