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Posts Tagged ‘Seasonal allergies’

Seasonal Allergies. By Our Student Pharmacist, Cambree Fillis.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 50,000,000 Americans suffer from allergies each year, especially as seasons start to change and warm weather emerges.

Allergies are a result of the immune system attempting to get rid of a substance that it does not recognize. Seasonal allergies are usually due to pollen from trees and grass, as well as different molds that grow in warm, humid weather.

Nevertheless, whether it is something consumed, inhaled, injected, or touched, your body can mount an immune response. This response can present as a cough, sneeze, itchy or watery eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose, rash, difficulty breathing, asthma exacerbation, and possibly even death if anaphylaxis results and is not treated promptly. Anaphylaxis is usually a reaction to food, latex, insect bites, and medications- not pollen. Therefore, seasonal allergies are not usually life-threatening, but can result is much discomfort. Fortunately, the symptoms of seasonal allergies can be managed.

Seasonal allergy treatments include prevention or treatment with over-the-counter and/or prescription medications, as well as immunotherapy.

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To prevent allergies, avoiding whatever it is that you are allergic to sometimes works best. For instance, if you are allergic to pollen, limiting your time outdoors or keeping your air conditioner on as to avoid opening windows will limit your exposure. If you cannot avoid the allergen, be sure to bathe daily. This will remove allergens from your skin. Washing bedding every week also limits allergen build up.

If allergies cannot be prevented with non-pharmacological interventions such as avoidance and staying clean, ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter and prescription medications that can be used instead. In many cases more than one treatment may be used to alleviate symptoms. Your pharmacist can tell you which ones! Use the following information to get the conversation started.

  • Nasal Rinses: A Neti-Pot can be used to rinse the nasal cavity and get rid of pollen in the nose. It is important to use distilled water whenever using a Neti-Pot.
  • Nasal Sprays: Nasal sprays work in various ways to alleviate allergy symptoms. There are saline nasal sprays, steroid nasal sprays, antihistamine nasal sprays, and decongestant nasal sprays, all of which can be found over-the-counter. Steroid nasal sprays take several days to start working, but once they do they help with congestion and post-nasal drip by reducing inflammation in the nose. Antihistamine nasal sprays relieve the itchy, runny nose, and decongestant nasal sprays, such as Afrin, help with stuffiness. Afrin, however, should not be used for more than 3 days in a row, as it can cause rebound congestion.
  • Eye Drops: Ketotifen (Zaditor) is an over-the-counter option for itchy, watery eyes; Olopatadine (Pazeo) will also relieve allergy-related symptoms affecting the eyes but is prescription only. No matter which eye drop you use, always be sure to wash your hands before administering them!
  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines help with itching, sneezing, and runny noses. Examples include, diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine, which can both cause drowsiness. Less sedating antihistamine options that you can find over-the-counter include loratadine (Claratin), fexofenadine (Allegra), and cetirizine (Zyrtec).
  • Decongestants: Decongestants reduce nasal stuffiness. They can come in various forms including a nasal spray, such as Afrin mentioned previously, or in a tablet or liquid form, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed). Some forms can increase blood pressure; therefore it is important to always ask your doctor or pharmacist which decongestant is best for you.
  • Creams/ointments: corticosteroid creams and ointments relieve itchiness from a rash caused by an allergen. Steroid topical products should not be used for more than 14 days, especially if applying to the face.

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When allergies cannot be prevented or treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications, immunotherapy can be used. Immunotherapy includes allergy shots and sublingual tablets that dissolve under the tongue.

Allergy shots have been used for decades and work by exposing patients to the substance that they are allergic to in increasing amounts. This gradual exposure is thought to create immunity and lessen allergic reactions.

Immunotherapy in a newer sublingual treatment can be used as an alternative to the shots.

1. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Allergy Treatment. Updated March 2018. Accessed April 2019. https://www.aafa.org/allergy-treatments/.
2. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Allergies. Updated September 2017. Accessed April 2019. www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/ToolsTemplates/EntertainmentEd/Tips/Allergies.html.
3. Hennessy M. Helping Patients Breathe Easier. Published March 2019. Accessed April 2019. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/health-system-edition/2019/march2019/helping-patients-breathe-easier.
4. Tl;dr Pharmacy. Preparing for Spring: Allergic Rhinitis. Updated February 2019. Accessed April 2019. https://www.tldrpharmacy.com/content/preparing-for-spring-allergic-rhinitis.
5. Patient education: Seasonal allergies in adults. UpToDate. Updated April 2019. Accessed April 2019.

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.