During springtime, do you get itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing or congestion? Then you most likely have allergies. These symptoms occur as a result of your immune system’s defence mechanism when your body comes into contact with a generally harmless foreign substance (an allergen), such as pollen. Spring can be a rough time for allergy sufferers because of all the pollen from the blooming trees and flower buds. Windy days are much worse as the air is filled with allergens.
• Stay indoors on windy days or spend time outdoors after a rainfall when the pollen is removed from the air.
• Avoid mowing or removing weeds from the lawn or wear a mask that filters out allergens.
• Remove outdoor clothing and take a bath/shower to remove any pollen from your body.
• Be aware that pollen can cling to your pet’s fur so keep your distance or clean your pet.
• Avoid hang-drying your clothes outside because pollen can cling to your clothes.
• Wash clothes, bed sheets and blankets in hot water to remove the allergens.
• Own a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA or small-particle filter and vacuum once per week.
• Invest in an air purifier/filter for your home.
• Dust and clean the inside of your home regularly.
• Use allergy-proof pillow and mattress covers.
• Upgrade to laminate flooring or hardwood floors because carpet can trap dust, mold spores and other allergens.
• Pay attention to TV or radio announcements for the local pollen forecasts. If pollen counts are high, stay indoors and keep windows and doors of your home or vehicle closed. Use air conditioning. It cleans and filters the air as it enters your home or car.
• You can talk to your doctor about finding out what exactly you are allergic to so you can avoid that allergen.
Talk to your pharmacist to learn more about allergies and the best treatment option for you, especially if you have any medical conditions or are taking medications.
Here is some basic information about possible treatments available.
Nasal irrigation involves rinsing the nasal cavity with saline solution (non-irritating salt water) to flush out any allergens or debris. You can find nasal irrigation kits in the pharmacy or make your own kit at home. There are recipes for making saline solution and instructional videos available online (see website below).
Antihistamines are used to treat or prevent runny nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and itchy skin. Some oral antihistamines can cause drowsiness and some are non-drowsy. These kinds of drugs are available in pill form, nasal spray, topical cream or eye drops.
Decongestants treat nasal congestion and are available in pill form or nasal spray. Nasal sprays containing decongestants should only be used for short-term treatment (3 to 5 days) since prolonged use can cause a rebound effect. Oral decongestant drugs may increase blood pressure and blood sugar, so those with diabetes or uncontrolled blood pressure should avoid their use.
Corticosteroids are prescription drugs used to treat allergies and they are available in oral dosage form, eye drops or nasal spray.
Seek medical advice when:
• you have a fever
• you have wheezing or difficulty breathing
• you have a lot of green discharge from the nose
• non-prescription drug treatment is ineffective
The above information is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor, pharmacist or qualified health care professional to receive proper medical treatment.
Armalyn Tesoro is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy. She is currently working as a licensed community pharmacist at Wal-Mart on Ellice and Empress.
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