Now that we have identified the problem that causes seasonal allergies, Pollen, and we know the symptoms include watery, itching eyes, runny and congested nasal passages, coughing, stomach acid, how do we effectively treat these symptoms? At the pharmacy there is a long aisle of options, but which is right for you?
Antihistamines have historically been the cornerstone of treatment. They block one of the immune responses to an allergic response. For example, if your symptom is only constant itching watery eyes, consider the eye drop ketotifen (trade name Zaditor or Alaway) it is a 12 hour antihistamine eye drop. Then we have the traditional oral antihistamines, Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), Loratadine (Claritin), Fexofenadine (Allegra), and Cetirizine (Zyrtec). All of these have their advantages, disadvantages, and limitations.
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Diphenhydramine is generally well known for its side effect of drowsiness, it is short acting, and is excellent as a drying agent. Some people are so miserable, and their nose is a nonstop faucet, that is a welcomed relief from misery, if only for a short reprieve. Loratadine is long acting, non-drowsy antihistamine in that you only have to take once daily, but that being said, it takes at least 3 days to reap the full benefits of this medicine. Fexofenadine is another long-acting antihistamine with an interesting side effect profile in that it can cause either drowsiness or jitteriness. It too, takes 3 days to reap the full benefits of this medicine. Lastly, Cetirizine, is a long acting, once daily
antihistamine. It is effective for indoor and outdoor allergies, but is known to cause drowsiness, so it is recommended to take at bedtime.
People that routinely, or even periodically, that take these antihistamines, have found out that over time, they become less effective. The healthcare practitioners then may have consumers take combinations of these antihistamines to generate the appropriately needed response, which from a pharmacist's perspective, is likewise additive to the side effect profile. Or the practitioner may recommend a nasal inhaled steroid for topical relief of congestion along with antihistamine of choice. There are additional Prescription alternatives for people that suffer with allergies. But what is gaining popularity, is natural alternatives to combat with nature itself. Stay tuned
for Seasonal Allergies Part 3.