Stock up on meds before allergy season begins
There’s no place for procrastination during allergy season. Call your doctor’s office for new prescriptions before you’re stuck with a bad case of the sniffles, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. “Be proactive and start a daily antihistamine or nasal steroid before the season begins,” says Mitchell H. Grayson, MD, chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio,(who happens to be allergic to cats, dust mites, tree, grass, and weed pollen). You can take antihistamines year round, if necessary, but nasal steroids need between a week and 10 days to become fully effective, so be sure to take it well before allergy season rolls around. Try an antihistamine like Allegra, Claritin, or Zyrtec; but steer clear of brands that contain chemicals like diphenhydramine that cause sedation and other side effects like depression. Waiting till the last minute to get your allergy meds isn’t the only thing that may make your allergies worse, your contact lenses do too.
Don’t overdo it on the nasal decongestants
Nasal decongestant sprays work like a charm because they shrink the swollen tissues in your nasal passages that cause congestion. Unfortunately, these drugs are not for long-term use. If you go overboard and use the spray for more than five days in a row, you can actually exacerbate your allergy symptoms and become addicted from overuse. “I avoid nasal decongestants, like oxymetazoline because it could worsen congestion over time or so-called rebound phenomenon,” says Dr. Grayson. In a study published in The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, 895 people suffering from moderate to severe rhinitis (a runny or stuffy nose) completed a questionnaire about the allergy medication they use. Despite the fact that 80 percent of patients knew there was a time limit they shouldn’t exceed for their nasal decongestant spray use, nearly 49 percent still reported overusing it. (Find out the truth behind the 11 big myths about allergies.)