By Ken Cohen, MD, FACP
Chief Medical Officer
Soon the pine pollen will be coating the cars in the morning. Some of us will greet the pollen with fits of sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Others do well until August when the grasses dry out and the wind starts blowing. Some unlucky individuals will react to both pollens and grasses.
Fortunately, first line treatments are available over the counter without a prescription.
- For those with only occasional eye and sinus symptoms, an antihistamine is all that may be needed. Of the common antihistamines, Claritin and Allegra are less sedating, while Zyrtec is stronger but is more sedating. Most of the older antihistamines such as Benadryl are no longer used due to a high incidence of sedation.
- For those only experiencing eye allergies, antihistamine eye drops work well. The “get the red out” drops should be avoided for long-term use as they result in rebound redness. When symptoms occur on a daily basis, treating the allergy works better than just treating the symptoms with an antihistamine. The most effective medications for this are nasal steroid sprays such as Flonase. After a couple of weeks of use, both nasal and eye symptoms usually are much improved, although antihistamines can still be used to treat symptoms. When these are not strong enough, there are prescription medications available.
Inflammation from allergies can also cause fatigue. Don’t let them ruin your summer. If you have questions about what over-the-counter medicine is right for you, call your primary care physician’s office.