Aspirus: How to get the most out of seasonal allergy medications

For the Tomahawk Leader

WISCONSIN – Aspirus Health recently offered tips on how to get the most out of seasonal allergy medications.

“It’s that time of year again – spring has sprung, and so have seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever,” a release from Aspirus said. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal allergies affect as many as 60 million people per year in the United States. These allergies can manifest during specific seasons or persist year-round, depending on the allergen, leading to symptoms like sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes and throat irritation.”

Aspirus provided the following tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma amd Immunology (ACAAI) to help make the most of allergy medications.

Choose the right medication

“It’s important to choose the right allergy medication to treat your symptoms,” said Lynn Halambeck, Aspirus Outpatient Pharmacist Manager. “For example, if you’re having those itchy, watery eyes, preferably you would want to use an eye drop. If you have a runny or congested nose, perhaps you want to try the nasal sprays.”

Halambeck. Photo courtesy of Aspirus.

Other over-the-counter medication options include antihistamines, commonly used for relief from sneezing, itching, and a runny nose; decongestants, helpful in reducing congestion and sinus pressure; or combination medications that include both an antihistamine and a decongestant.

“Consult with a pharmacist before trying any new medication to ensure there are no interactions with your current prescription medications,” Lynn stated.

Follow dosage instructions

Aspirus said it’s important to follow dosage instructions carefully when taking allergy medications.

“Taking too much medication can be harmful, while taking too little may not provide relief,” Aspirus stated. “Always read the label and follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider or the package insert.”

Take medications at the right time

The timing of allergy medication can be crucial, Aspirus noted.

“Some medications, such as antihistamines, work best when taken before exposure to allergens, while others, like decongestants, may be more effective when taken after exposure,” Aspirus said.

Be aware of side effects

“Allergy medications can have side effects, so it’s essential to be aware of these before taking them,” Aspirus stated.

Common side effects of antihistamines include drowsiness, dry mouth and blurred vision.

Decongestants can cause nervousness, jitteriness and an increased heart rate.

Nasal corticosteroids can lead to nasal irritation, a sore throat and nosebleeds.

Avoid alcohol and other substances

Aspirus said some allergy medications can interact with alcohol and other substances, such as certain medications or herbal supplements.

“Always read the label and consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist before trying any new medications or supplements,” Aspirus stated. “Alcohol can exacerbate certain allergy symptoms, such as nasal congestion and headache, so it’s best to avoid it during allergy season.”

Keep medications on hand

“Allergy symptoms can strike at any time, so it’s important to keep your medications readily available,” Aspirus said. “Consider keeping a supply at home, at work, and in your car to ensure access to relief when needed.”

Consider allergy shots

Aspirus noted that if your allergies are severe or persistent, allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, may be an option.

This treatment involves regular injections of small amounts of allergens over several years to desensitize the immune system and reduce symptom severity.

 “If you’re experiencing persistent or severe symptoms, talk to your primary care provider or local pharmacist about the best treatment options for you,” Aspirus stated.

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