Seasonal allergies may disrupt your day-to-day rhythm of life and put a damper on all outdoor activities. For people who suffer from allergies and choose to self-treat their symptoms, picking the right medication can be a daunting task. Even more so, considering how many different antiallergic drugs are available on our pharmacy shelves. A lot of preparations that once were prescription-only have now moved over the counter. Today, you can order those on the Internet with a single tap on your smartphone screen.
If that is how you prefer to get your anti-allergy meds, do spend some time finding a trustworthy online service that sells top-quality drugs, and has professional pharmacists to advise you on the proper use of those.
What is behind allergy symptoms?
Before you start shopping for an allergy relief medicine, it might be helpful to understand what allergies are and which factors can trigger their onset. Allergies are an unusually vigorous response of our immune system to foreign substances known as allergens, which enter our body via inhalation, touch, or with food. Typically harmless, substances like pollen, peanuts, fish, or dust are viewed by the immune system of an allergy-affected person as a threat and are, therefore, attacked by it immediately.
The defense mechanism involves the production of allergen-specific antibodies that serve as messengers to mast cells, telling them to release histamine and certain other chemicals intended to fight the supposed intruder. Histamine makes blood vessels expand and excites the nerves in the nose, which is why a person who is experiencing an allergic reaction sneezes so much. Furthermore, histamine causes mucous membranes in the nasal passages to inflame, producing a lot of mucus. This condition is called allergic rhinitis, and it usually manifests itself by the runny or blocked nose, watery or itchy eyes, coughing, and throat irritation.
What can be done?
Many OTC medications help manage allergy symptoms effectively. Some were specifically designed to treat this health problem; for others, the antiallergic action was just a beneficial side effect that made it possible to use these drugs off-label. Today, two groups of medicines show the most efficiency in relieving or preventing bothersome allergic symptoms. They are antihistamines and corticosteroids.
This group of meds works by inhibiting the effects of histamine that is released in the body in response to an allergen. They provide quick relief of the already-present allergy symptoms. However, there is a downside to using antihistamine medications like diphenhydramine or brompheniramine. These drugs are known to cause extreme drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion, which can even lead to falls and traumas.
Second-generation medicines like loratadine and fexofenadine are less likely to produce these side effects and are safer to take during the day. With a pharmaceutical portal Mapofmedicine.com, you may learn the profiles of more remedies for allergy alongside Fexofenadine, Loratadine with its generic Claritin. However, they all should be spoken about with the doctor, as he may prescribe a completely reverse direction in the treatment, especially if you have chronic itching of the nose or throat.
Corticosteroids offer an entirely different way to approach the problem. Rather than helping you relieve the symptoms that you already have, these drugs can be taken in advance to stop such symptoms from ever occurring. If you know that you are going to have an allergy at a specific time of year (for example, in August, when ragweed is in bloom), you may choose to begin the treatment with corticosteroid nasal spray even before your nose and eyes start running and itching.
The inconvenience of applying corticosteroid sprays is that it may take you up to a few weeks to feel the full effect. Besides, the number of possible adverse side effects here is impressive and includes nasal bleedings, glaucoma impairment, and in rare cases, nasal septum perforation.
Are over-the-counter decongestants a valid treatment option?
When they first experience a seasonal allergy, many people opt for using OTC nasal decongestants like phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine. While these medicines quickly reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, they can also cause increased BP, elevated heart rate, sleeplessness, and agitation. These preparations are not recommended for aged patients who have heart problems, chest pain, diabetes, and hypertension. Besides, most OTC nasal decongestants are only safe to apply for a few days. Their continued use may lead to increased inflammation and swelling, making your initial allergy symptoms even more pronounced.
How to choose the right one that will help the whole family?
If you think that you can cope with this problem on your own and want to start by trying one of the OTC meds available on the pharmacy shelves without a prescription, here is what you need to know:
- Decide on the right format of your antiallergic medicine.
The assortment of OTC antihistamine drugs is superb and includes tablets, pills, nasal sprays, and ophthalmic solutions (eye drops). Choosing the right one will depend on your immediate symptoms. Oral tablets and pills are highly effective in fighting itching, sneezing, and rhinorrhea. On the other hand, sprays tend to be more helpful with nasal congestion and PND.
- Take a proactive stance in allergy symptom management.
Antihistamine drugs are most beneficial if taken before symptoms start showing. If you know you are likely to be exposed to any allergy-triggering substances, taking a medicine well in advance can help you cope with these symptoms in a much more effective way.
- Carefully read the instructions on the box.
For a more prominent effect, some meds are a combination of antihistamines and decongestants, but they should only be used when your nose is bunged-up. Otherwise, you will risk experiencing dangerous side effects like increased BP for nothing.
- Know when it is time to seek professional help.
If you do not feel any improvement in your symptoms after using a certain OTC allergy medication for a month, it might be a good time to visit your doctor. Some most severe forms of allergies are impossible to treat with whatever over-the-counter brands you can find and require a prescription from your physician.
Your doctor may suggest another treatment approach if he thinks that traditional antihistamines and corticosteroids do not do the trick. There are plenty of other options to try, including leukotriene inhibitors, mast cell stabilizers, anticholinergic nasal allergy sprays, and immunomodulatory drugs.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to treating allergies. The smartest and safest thing to do to help your family live through an allergy season is to see your doctor and have him prescribe the most suitable medicine that will meet everyone’s unique treatment needs and produce fewest side effects.