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Posts Tagged ‘Seasonal allergies’

Seasonal Allergies. By Our June Student Pharmacist, Mackenzie Piché.


Allergy season is in full-swing in Central Ohio. If you’re one of the 50 million Americans plagued by seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, you may be dealing with one or more of the following bothersome symptoms:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Itchy/watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Sore or Itchy Throat

Experts agree that avoiding your allergy triggers is the most important thing you can do to decrease symptoms. Here are some tips to keep your outdoor allergies under control this season:

  1. Stay indoors during periods of high pollen or mold counts (you can check your local weather stations for reports on counts: go HERE to do that).
  2. Shower and wash clothing after spending time outdoors.
  3. Avoid hanging clothing and bedding outside to dry.
  4. Keep windows closed, instead use air conditioning.
  5. If your doctor has prescribed an allergy medication for you, be sure to take or use it every day, as directed.

allergy free

Looking for Relief?

Overview of Over-the-Counter Treatment Options for Adults

Treatment selection can be made based on symptoms and individual preference, while also taking into consideration any other conditions you may have. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to discuss which treatment is best for you.

Saline Nasal Spray


  • Simply Saline (Sterile Saline Solution)
  • Ayr (Sterile Saline Solution)

How they work: Help to remove dried, crusted mucus from the nose.

Glucocorticoid Nasal Spray


  • Flonase Allergy Relief (Fluticasone)
  • Nasacort Allergy 24 HR (Triamcinolone)
  • Rhinocort Allergy Spray (Budesonide)

How these sprays work: Decrease inflammation and congestion to alleviate sneezing and runny or stuffy nose.

  • Patient Note: May take 3 to 7 days for maximum symptom relief to occur.

When to Avoid: If you have glaucoma or cataracts.

Oral Antihistamines


  • Claritin (Loratadine)
  • Zyrtec (Cetirizine)
  • Allegra (Fexofenadine)
  • Xyzal (Levocetirizine)

How they work: Prevent histamine release, which is responsible for symptoms like itching, runny nose, and sneezing.

  • Patient Note: These products do not cause drowsiness in most patients. Of the available products, cetirizine has the highest incidence of drowsiness, affecting about 14% of adults.

When to avoid: If breastfeeding; Consult a doctor before taking if you have liver or kidney problems

Decongestant Nasal Sprays


  • Afrin (Oxymetazoline)
  • Neo-Synephrine (Phenylephrine)

How these sprays work: Constrict vessels in the nose to stimulate clearing of mucus from the nasal passages.

  • Patient Note: These products should be used for short-term allergy relief only. Using for more than 2 or 3 days can cause “rebound” congestion and return of symptoms.

Oral Decongestants


  • Sudafed PE (Phenylephrine)
  • Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)

*Also available in combination with antihistamines (i.e. Claritin-D, Zyrtec-D, Allegra-D).

How these products work: Constrict vessels in the nose to stimulate clearing of mucus from the nasal passages.

  • Patient Note: Pseudoephedrine products are only available for sale from behind the pharmacy counter.

When to avoid: If you have high blood pressure, an enlarged prostate, or glaucoma.

Nasal Cromolyn


  • NasalCrom (Cromolyn)

How it works: Decreases histamine release in the nose, leading to less mucus release, itching, and sneezing.

  • Patient Note: May take 3 to 7 days to begin working and 2 to 4 weeks to see the full effect.

Drug of choice for: Older adults and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


When to see a doctor:

  • Children <12 years old
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Symptoms of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), like shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Symptoms of an ear infection (pain, hearing loss)
  • Symptoms of a sinus infection (sinus pressure or headache, tooth pain, congestion lasting 7-10 days that does not respond to treatment with OTC decongestants)
  • Side effects experienced with over-the-counter (OTC) treatment
  • Symptoms not improved with OTC treatment

Note: Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before beginning a new over-the-counter medication.












Seasonal Allergies. By Our April Student Pharmacist, Mark Borns.


Spring time means that flowers and leaves begin to bloom. While the warmth and colorful scenery is a pleasant change from the winter season, the pollen can cause irritating allergy symptoms for millions of people.

Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, can make you miserable. Thankfully there are some simple strategies you can use to help prevent allergy symptoms.

What are seasonal allergies and the symptoms?

Seasonal allergies lead to inflammation of the nasal passages that causes annoying symptoms including:

  • Nose – Watery nasal discharge, blocked nasal passages, sneezing, nasal itching, postnasal drip, loss of taste, facial pressure or pain
  • Eyes – Itchy, red eyes, feeling of grittiness in the eyes, swelling and blueness of the skin below the eyes
  • Throat and ears – Sore throat, hoarse voice, congestion or popping of the ears, itching of the throat or ears
  • Sleep – Mouth breathing, frequent awakening, daytime fatigue, difficulty performing work

If these symptoms only last a short time, they could be caused by an infection or virus such as the common cold. If these symptoms last for longer periods of time, such as weeks or months, they are probably a result of seasonal allergies. The symptoms can vary during your lifetime and usually are most severe in children or adults in their thirties or forties.


What are common seasonal allergy causes?

Seasonal allergies are caused by a nasal reaction to airborne particles, such as pollen from flowers, called allergens. While the timing and severity of allergy seasons vary across the country, the following climate factors also can influence how bad your symptoms might be:

  • Tree, grass, and ragweed pollens thrive during cool nights and warm days.
  • Molds grow quickly in heat and high humidity.
  • Pollen levels tend to peak in the morning hours.
  • Rain washes pollen away, but pollen counts can soar after rainfall.
  • On a day with no wind, airborne allergens are grounded.
  • When the day is windy and warm, pollen counts surge.

Do I need to see a doctor for seasonal allergies?

There are many options available to treat seasonal allergies over-the-counter (OTC). While your doctor would be able to make a formal allergy diagnosis, speaking to your local pharmacists can prove to be more timely and cost effective. Describing your symptoms to your pharmacist will help them recommend an OTC allergy medicine that will help alleviate your symptoms.

Young man in yellow canola field blowing his nose and suffering from pollen allergy.

How are seasonal allergies treated?

If your symptoms primarily include only nasal congestion, you may be able to use a nasal steroid spray or decongestant. If you have more of the common allergy symptoms such as watery eyes or runny nose, an oral antihistamine could be a good option for you. These types of medications are available OTC and many have affordable generic alternatives, too. Talking with your local pharmacist can help you make the best choice for which product might be right for you.

Can I treat seasonal allergies without medicine?

Other methods besides taking medication can be used to help decrease or prevent allergy symptoms. Some useful tips for allergy preventative habits around the home during allergy season include:

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Avoid lawn mowing, weed pulling, and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
  • Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Don’t hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
  • If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
  • Close doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
  • Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
  • Change air filters and properly maintain forced air heating and cooling systems in your home.


  1. Hay fever. Seasonal allergies: Nip them in the bud. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/in-depth/seasonal-allergies/art-20048343. Accessed April 6, 2016.
  2. Allergic rhinitis. Up to Date. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/contents/allergic-rhinitis-seasonal-allergies-beyond-the-basics?source=search_result. Accessed April 6, 2016.
  3. Seasonal Allergies. ACAAI Available at: http://acaai.org/allergies/types/seasonal. Accessed April 6, 2016.


Seasonal Allergies: How to Outrun Your Nose! By Our June Student Pharmacist, Mark Buenger.


Allergy season is back once again, making millions of Americans uncomfortable and emptying out tissue boxes faster than a speeding bullet!

Warmer weather brings spores from fungi and molds, as well as pollen from trees, grass, and flowers. If you are suffering from symptoms like sneezing, congestion, runny nose, and watery eyes, keep on reading to find some helpful pointers for relief.

So, first thing’s first. What can you do to limit exposure to pollen and mold?

✓ Check pollen counts for your area. There are numerous resources you can use for this such as local TV, radio, and newspapers.

Pollen.com will give you a specific pollen forecast for your zip code, as will weather.com (under More Forecasts).

✓ Keep your doors and windows closed during pollen season.
✓ Avoid drying your laundry outside.
✓ Use air conditioning in both your house and your car.
✓ Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning because pollen counts are highest.
✓ Use a dehumidifier.
✓ Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom and an allergy-grade filter in the ventilation system.
✓ Avoid mowing the lawn or raking leaves. If this must be done, wear a face mask.

If doing these things does not help, you may want to consider seeking relief from non-prescription medications.

There are three main classes of medications that work in a variety of ways leading to different effects.

The first class of these medications is the antihistamines. Medications in this class include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl).

These medications help to relieve the itching, sneezing, and runny nose. The effectiveness of these medications is similar, but they can cause different levels of drowsiness. Benadryl will cause you to be the drowsiest. Zyrtec tends to cause a little drowsiness, while Claritin and Allegra do not cause drowsiness.


Another class of medication for seasonal allergies is nasal sprays. Medications in this class include Flonase and Nasacort.

These medications are effective at preventing and treating nasal inflammation, itching, and a runny nose. Nasacort typically relieves nasal symptoms while Flonase relieves both nasal and eye symptoms. Both medications should be used daily and can take a few days to a week to have the most effect. One thing to look out for with these medications would be a change in your sense of taste or smell.

The final class of medication I would like to discuss is the decongestants. The major medication in this class is pseudoephedrine (Sudafed). This medication will work to relieve a stuffy nose. You want to use caution when using this medication if you have high blood pressure as Sudafed can cause an increase.

There are many combination products that combine antihistamines and decongestants such as Zyrtec D, Claritin D and Allegra D. These medications help to relieve a variety of allergy symptoms.

You may need to see your doctor if:
✓ Non-prescription medications do not provide relief.
✓ You are experiencing severe symptoms.
✓ Allergies lead to chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion, or difficulty breathing.
✓ You are experiencing the warning signs of serious asthma.

So, use this information, be smart about going outside, and you will be able to outrun your nose this allergy season!




Seasonal Allergies: Nip Them in the Bud! By Our June Student Pharmacist, Megan Chaney.

It’s that time of year again! Allergy season! Mold growth blooms inside and outside with spring rains. Additionally, as flowers, trees, weeds, and grasses blossom, allergies will soon follow.

As we move into summer, warm temperatures and high humidity can continue to cause problems, because summer is the peak time for some types of pollen, smog, and mold. If you’re one of the millions of people who have seasonal allergies and suffer from sneezing, congestion, runny nose, and other bothersome symptoms, here are some helpful tips to relieve your most annoying allergy symptoms.

  • Know the pollen counts for your area. Check your TV, radio station, local newspaper, or Pollen.com to get an “allergy forecast” for your zip code. Tree pollen counts are high in spring, while grass pollen is highest in summer, and weed pollen in fall.
  • Avoid outdoor allergy triggers. Stay indoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when outdoor pollen counts tend to be highest. The best time to go outside is after it rains, because the rain helps to clear pollen from the air.
  • Wear an inexpensive painter’s mask when you mow the lawn or when around freshly cut grass.
  • Close doors and windows at night or at any other time when pollen counts are high.
  • Dry laundry inside instead of on an outside clothesline.
  • Shower before going to bed, because pollen can stick to your skin and hair and accumulate in your bedding.
  • Wash your bedding every week in hot water to help keep pollen under control.
  • Vacuum twice a week.
  • Limit the number of throw rugs in your home to reduce dust and mold.

If you are suffering from allergy symptoms and the above suggestions are not providing relief, it may be time to consider non-prescription medications, such as:

  • Antihistamines: These type of medications help relieve sneezing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes. Examples of oral antihistamines include: loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra). Other antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), work well, but can cause more drowsiness.
  • Nasal sprays: Steroid nasal sprays, such as Nasacort, can reduce allergic inflammation and make it easier to breath. For many decongestant nasal sprays, such as Afrin, be sure to use as directed, because they should only be used for up to three days or they could make your symptoms worse.
  • Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can help to temporarily relieve a stuffy nose.
  • Know when to see your doctor. If over-the-counter allergy medications don’t work; if your symptoms are severe; or if you’re prone to secondary infections or worsening of asthma or other respiratory conditions, it may be time to schedule a doctor’s visit.
  • Combination medications: Many antihistamines are available in combination with decongestants, including Zyrtec D, Claritin D, and Allegra D in order to provide relief of a variety of allergy symptoms.





Seasonal Allergies. By Our June Pharmacy Student, Nick Trego.

It’s warm weather again in Ohio and you know what that means: ALLERGY SEASON!

Plants, that had been dormant over the winter, are once again blooming and releasing allergens into the air. These allergens find their way into our bodies and provoke our immune systems to attack foreign particles that are not necessarily harmful, but our bodies perceive them as being so.

Seasonal allergies typically occur in the spring and fall when the seasons are changing and plant life is most active. The blooming of plants in the spring and the shedding of plant material in the fall releases a high number of allergens into the air and increases the likelihood of people experiencing allergy symptoms. Pollen, grass, ragweed and mold are common substances that cause seasonal allergies.

Some ways to avoid exposure to seasonal allergens are to:

1. Stay inside on dry or windy days.

2. Avoid lawn mowing, weed pulling, and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.

3. Remove clothes that were worn outside.

4. Take a shower after being outside to remove allergens from skin.

5. Do not hang laundry outside to dry.

6. Wear a dust mask if you must do outdoor chores.

Many newspapers and television news stations report the pollen and allergen levels on a daily basis, so this is a good way to determine if going outside will aggravate allergies.  Allergy Information:  Allergy Information

There are numerous over-the-counter medications available to ease the burden of seasonal allergies. Avoiding exposure to the allergen is always a first line recommendation, but for some people staying inside all day is not a viable option. Antihistamine medications such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), chlorpheniramine, Allegra (fexofenadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), and Claritin (loratadine) can help to combat these seasonal allergies. Benadryl and chlorpheniramine can cause drowsiness, so these may not be the best option for day time allergy relief. Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin all work very similarly and will not cause drowsiness. However, it is recommended to switch between these medications if one has been used for a long period of time and seems to be losing its effect on allergy relief.

All of these medications are available behind the pharmacy counter in combination with pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a medication that helps to relieve the stuffy nose and congestion that is commonly associated with seasonal allergies. This medication can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure–therefore, anyone with high blood pressure or heart problems should consult their doctor before using pseudoephedrine containing products. How to choose the right medication for me?

Nasal saline rinses can also be helpful with allergy and congestion relief, but remember to always use distilled water with saline nasal rinses, as tap water can contain harmful substances that may cause extra complications. These nasal rinses help to lubricate the nasal passages and clear any mucus and allergens from the nasal canals. Nasal sprays are available to decrease congestion, but their use is not recommended beyond three days. These medications cause the blood vessels in the nose to constrict and this provides temporary congestion relief. However, these nasal sprays only act for a very short period of time and as they wear off, the blood vessels open back up and increased congestion occurs.  For this reason, the use of decongestant nasal sprays is not commonly recommended.  Rebound Congestion

One other product that can help make seasonal allergies more bearable is the antihistamine eye drop. Often times, seasonal allergies cause itchy and reddening of the eyes.  The active ingredients in antihistamine eye drops include naphazoline hydrochloride (Naphcon A) and ketotifen fumarate (Zaditor). These medications are available over the counter for allergy symptoms of the eyes.

If any symptoms of seasonal allergies become too much to handle or affect normal daily life to a point that is unacceptable, a physician or allergist should be consulted. There are many prescription medications and treatments that can help relieve allergy symptoms and improve quality of life in many patients.