The blossoms that follow those April showers are not the only spring arrivals. For many people, springtime also brings allergy symptoms and a mad rush for OTC relief from nasal congestion, runny noses, sneezing, and/or itchy, watery eyes.
Fortunately, relief can be as close as the pharmacy, in nasal sprays, oral allergy medications such as antihistamines and decongestants, and air-filter devices for allergy and decongestion.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 50 million or more Americans suffer from allergies. The most common allergens are pollen, dust, food, insect stings, animal dander, mold, medications, and latex. Symptoms can range from mild irritation to life-threatening reactions requiring immediate medical attention. For those with less-severe reactions, OTC products can provide relief.
What to do about it
Some experts suggest that patients begin treating allergy symptoms early to lessen upper respiratory distress.
Others suggest tips to reduce outdoor allergy triggers. They include checking daily pollen counts and forecasts, staying
indoors when pollen levels are highest (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), use of a filter, and keeping windows closed during the day. Washing curtains and mopping floors frequently also can help.
After a lengthy period outdoors, allergy sufferers can lessen problems by changing clothes, showering, and washing their hair to reduce allergens brought into the home. Sufferers also can reduce allergens by making sure pets are bathed and groomed and kept out of bedrooms.
It’s a good idea to keep an allergy diary that tracks the time of day symptoms occur. This can help healthcare providers identify triggers.
Pharmacists can recommend numerous OTC products for patients suffering from allergies. See below.
Flonase Allergy Relief. This Rx product went OTC in July 2014. It delivers 50 mcg of fluticasone propionate in each actuation through the nasal adapter. Its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, suggests that patients may start to feel relief after the first day; the full effect comes after several days of regular, once-a-day use. Said by the manufacturer to temporarily relieve the symptoms of hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies, it can be used by adults and children 12 years and older. (www.flonase.com) (Image courtesy of GlaxoSmithKline)
Nasacort Multi-Symptom Nasal Allergy SprayNasacort Allergy 24HR. The first Rx drug in this category to go OTC (in October 2013), this formulation of triamcinolone acetonide glucocorticoid, 55 mcg, is a multisymptom nasal allergy spray from Chattem, a Sanofi Company. It is scent- and alcohol-free, has no harsh taste, causes no drowsiness, and stays where it’s sprayed. It is the first OTC intranasal steroid on the market. It can be used in adults and children as young as two years old. (www.nasacort.com) (Image courtesy of Chattem)
QlearQuil 12 Hour Nasal
Decongestant Moisturizing Spray. This formulation of oxymetazoline HCl from Procter & Gamble treats runny nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, itchy nose or throat, sinus pressure, and sinus congestion. QlearQuil Spray is said to offer fast-acting and long-lasting sinus and congestion relief. It can be used by adults and children six years and older. (www.vicks.com)
Allegra Allergy Gelcaps (fexofenadine HCl) from Chattem can be used in adults and children ages 12 and older. It starts working in one hour to provide non-drowsy, 24-hour relief. One pill a day will provide temporary relief for sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, and itchy nose or throat. According to Sanofi, a clinical study that placed patients in a pollen chamber where ragweed pollen levels were eight times higher than normal found that Allegra provided clinically important relief (defined as defined as slight to complete relief) of allergy symptoms in one hour. (www.allegra.com) (Image courtesy of Chattem)
Children's ZyrtecChildren’s Zyrtec Dissolve Tabs. This formulation of cetirizine HCl from McNeil provides temporary relief of symptoms of hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies, including runny nose; sneezing; itchy, watery eyes; and itchy nose or throat. The melt-in-the-mouth tablets can be taken with or without water. Product may cause drowsiness. It can be used for adults and children ages six and older. (www.zyrtec.com) (Image courtesy of McNeil)
Procter & Gamble’s QlearQuil product line comes at things in several ways, starting with QlearQuil Daytime Sinus & Congestion Relief. This combination of acetaminophen and phenylephrine HCl provides relief for daytime congestion without causing drowsiness. It can be taken as needed by adults and children six years of age and older.
QlearQuil All Day & All Night 24 Hour Allergy Relief. This product (loratadine tablets, 10 mg) also can be taken when needed and does not cause drowsiness. It provides longer-lasting relief than the Daytime Relief product does. It too can be used by adults and children six years of age and older.
QlearQuil Sinus & Congestion Relief Co-Pack. This product provides temporary relief for symptoms of the common cold, including minor aches and pains, headache, fever, nasal congestion, sinus congestion, and pressure. It also provides relief for symptoms of hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies. According to the manufacturer, it offers maximum strength sinus and congestion relief during the day and at night. (www.vicks.com)
Air AllergyAir Allergy. Made by AirWare Labs, this filter helps protect patients from airborne allergens. It fits inside the nose and filters out allergens before they enter your system. The drug-free product promises to block allergens like pollen, dust, and pet dander, and uses essential oils to help reduce allergy symptoms. The manufacturer says it is 99% effective against airborne viruses, bacteria, pollution, and allergens. (wwwairwarelabs.com) (Image courtesy of AirWare Labs)
Air DecongestAir Decongest. Also made by AirWare Labs, this product helps relieve congestion from allergies or colds without drugs. The company claims that the eucalyptus oil-infused filter helps open nasal passages and can increase airflow better than nasal strips. It also can be used during the day and at night to reduce snoring. (wwwairwarelabs.com) (Image courtesy of AirWare Labs)