Springtime Allergies are Coming At-choo

Over the counter medications to help relieve allergies.

Orlando has some of the highest pollen counts in the nation, according to Pollen.com.

The Florida Center for Allergy and Asthma reports show that this March, there have been ten times more "high-index" allergy days than last March.

Allergic rhinitis is the technical term for those pesky Springtime symptoms like runny noses, sneezing and nasal congestion. And for those of us lucky enough to have really bad allergies, allergic conjunctivitis is also a reality. Allergic conjunctivitis is associated with red, itchy, watery eyes. Pharmacist's Letter reports that about ten percent of the US population suffers from seasonal allergies or "Hay Fever."

So what methods are most effective?

Studies from Pharmacist's Letter show that the most effective treatment for seasonal allergies are intranasal corticosteroids (nasal sprays) like Flonase and Nasacort. For them to be effective, however, you have to use them for about two to four weeks. These days they're available over the counter for about $15.

Oral anti-histamines (Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec) and decongestants (like Sudafed) can help in less severe cases. Studies also show that nasal irrigation with a saline solution can be beneficial. Neti-pots or "low-pressure squeeze bottles" can help clear out your nasal passages. Eye drops with allergy control can help to reduce itchy, watery eyes.

Here's some other helpful tips to help reduce your exposure to allergens:

  • Use air conditioning rather than open windows and doors.
  • Shower and change your clothes after being outside.
  • Wash your hands frequently to get pollen off of your hands.
  • Use allergen-free pillow covers and wash your sheets in hot water.
  •  Monitor the pollen count to see what's in store for your upcoming day.
  • Don't rub your eyes - use cold compresses instead.
  • If you wear contacts, bring your glasses with you because allergies can make contacts act up and become uncomfortable.

Allergies tend to be the worst between March and May. If you ever feel especially annoyed by your allergies, the good news is that Spring ends on June 20th.

Story and photos by Leila Eltouny.

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