Spring is finally here! But for many of us that means seasonal allergies are here as well. Whether you’re an avid gardener or just an outdoorsy type, and whatever it is that you’re allergic to, the symptoms of allergies are often unbearable. From the most common symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes, and irritated sinuses, to the more intense symptoms like hives, nausea, and swelling, anyone who suffers from allergies just wants the symptoms to go away quickly.
When it comes to buying allergy medication at your local pharmacy, however, the decision can be nearly as overwhelming as the symptoms themselves. If you’re having a hard time finding an allergy medication that works well for you, here are some things to know.
Types of Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medication
Allergy medication can come in several forms, including pills and tablets, eye drops, nasal sprays, and skin creams. What type of best for you depends on your symptoms. When choosing a medication, it’s important to understand the active ingredients that can be found in allergy meds.
Active Ingredients in Allergy Medications
These drugs are similar to the naturally occurring hormone cortisone, which can help relieve inflammation in the body. Corticosteroids can be used to reduce symptoms of swelling, itching, redness, and sneezing. You can find corticosteroids in several OTC medications at your pharmacy, including:
- Budesonide (Rhinocort): Nasal Spray
- Fluticasone (Flonase): Nasal Spray
- Triamcinolone (Nasacort): Nasal Spray
One of the most common active ingredients for allergy medications are antihistamines. Histamine is a chemical that is naturally released from cells in your body when there is an allergic reaction and can cause those dreaded symptoms such as swelling, sneezing, runny nose, itchiness, and rashes. Antihistamines help block the release of the chemical. Some popular antihistamines include:
- Cetirizine (Zyrtec): Nasal Spray
- Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert): Nasal Spray
- Fexofenadine (Allegra): Nasal Spray
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl): Oral Medication
- Chlorpheniramine (Advil Allergy, Chlor-Trimeton): Oral Medication
If you struggle with a stuffy nose, try a decongestant. These drugs relieve swollen nasal passages and reduce inflammation that leads to a stuffy nose. Decongestants can cause your blood pressure and heart rate to increase and are typically not available over the counter so you will need to ask your pharmacist for the medication. Over using decongestants can also make it more difficult to treat symptoms long-term as it takes more medication to achieve the same relief. Decongestants are available as:
- Pseudoephedrine (Afrinol, Sudafed): Oral Medication
- Phenylephrine PE (Sudafed PE): Oral Medication
Combination Antihistamine and Decongestant
There are also medications that combine both antihistamines and decongestants. These are also typically available through the pharmacist or by prescription and not over the counter. You can recognize which medications are a combination because the name is followed by a -D. These include:
- Cetirizine/pseudoephedrine (Zyrtec-D)
- Fexofenadine/pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D)
- Loratadine/pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D)
Treating Allergies Without Medication
Even though medication is a quick and effective way of reducing allergy symptoms, relief can also be found through some natural methods.
Altering the Environment: You may want to try doing a spring cleaning in your home, including cleaning the carpets. If you’re allergic to something outside, try keeping the windows closed to balance the indoor environment.
Herbs and Foods: Adding local honey to your diet can help relieve symptoms of allergies. Other herbs and foods to try include garlic, rosemary, and turmeric.
Nasal Rinses: If you’re in need of relief from congestion, try a nasal rinse like the Neti Pot.
When to See Your Doctor
If you have tried several different allergy medications over the course of a few months and have still not found adequate relief, consider talking to your doctor about prescription medications. Your doctor can help determine what type is best for you, how much and how often to take it, and can offer insight and advice about side effects. The team at your local pharmacy may also be able to provide some guidance on the right medication for your needs, but your doctor is the only person who can prescribe a medication.
Visit Stone Ridge Pharmacy in Aldie, Virginia
If you want to get outdoors this spring and summer without suffering from allergies, visit your local Aldie pharmacist at Stone Ridge Pharmacy. We offer a wide range of allergy medications, including pills, sprays, and creams. Our pharmacy is also stocked with medication that you cannot get over the counter. For your convenience, we offer free prescription delivery and online prescription refills. Above all, we want you to have access to the medication you need to stay healthy! Visit or call us today if you have any questions.