With spring finally here, up to 20% of us will have to deal with seasonal allergies.
In Toronto, we see tree pollen allergies during the spring. This gives way to a rise in grass pollens in summer, and ragweed in the fall. Pollens are somewhat variable each year and may be early or late depending on the weather.
Typical symptoms include itchy, watery eyes, runny noses and headaches. It’s likely not a summer cold if it lasts more than a week; it’s allergy season!
Over-the-counter allergy medications – Antihistamines
The good news is that there are many over-the-counter (OTC) medications to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
Antihistamines in tablet form are a good place to start. Reactine, Claritin, Allegra and Aerius are all good options, and they typically come in 12hour or 24hour formulations.
Over-the-counter allergy medications – Eye Drops & Nasal Sprays
Besides antihistamines, eye drops like Visine Allergy and Cromolyn can provide added relief for itchy, watery and puffy eyes. They can control symptoms when used at regular intervals throughout the day, as directed on the package.
Steroid nasal sprays such as Flonase and Nasacort used to be available only by prescription, but now they are on the shelf in every drugstore. Nasal sprays reduce inflammation in the sinus passages. If fact, studies have shown that they can help all your allergy symptoms not just nasal ones. When used every day during your allergy season, nasal sprays can provide relief from nasal congestion, runny nose, sinus pain, itchy, watery eyes and itchy throat and cough.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies you can use any one of these options or all of them together.
Allergies & HIV
As an HIV pharmacist, my biggest concern is drug interactions between HIV medications and allergy medications. Believe it or not, some antihistamines and even the Flonase nasal spray can interact with many HIV medications. HIV drugs like Norvir (ritonavir) can boost the effect of Flonase in the blood stream to dangerous levels, so they should not be combined.
If you’re on HIV medication and suffer from allergies, ask your pharmacist to recommend allergy products that will be safe and helpful for you. As always, please feel free to contact me at The Village Pharmacy. We’re here to help.
Enjoy your summer!
The Village Pharmacy