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Armalyn Tesoro     Spring allergies

Spring can be a rough time for allergy sufferers because of all the dust in the air and pollen from the blooming plants, trees and flower buds. Your immune system reacts to these allergens, which can make you have itchy and watery eyes or a runny nose. It can also cause sneezing or sinus congestion and, in some cases, can even trigger headaches. Knowing more about what triggers your allergic reactions can help you prevent reactions and treat them if you already have some symptoms.

Prevention

  1. Try to stay indoors on windy days. The wind carries dust and pollen and spreads it around.
  2. When mowing or removing weeds from your lawn, wear a mask. It can filter out allergens that become airborne as you stir around in the yard.
  3. Remove your outer clothing right away when coming from outdoors. Bathe or shower to remove any pollen from your body and your hair.
  4. Be aware that pollen can cling to your pet’s fur as well.
  5. Avoid hang-drying your clothes outdoors because the pollen can cling to your clothes, more so on windy days.
  6. Wash clothes, bed sheets and blankets in hot water to remove allergens.
  7. Ensure your vacuum cleaner is equipped with a small-particle filter, like HEPA, and try to vacuum once a week.
  8. Install an air purifier/filter system for your home.
  9. Use allergy proof pillow and mattress covers.
  10. Upgrade to laminate flooring or hardwood floors because carpet can trap dust, mold spores and other allergens.
  11. Pay attention to TV or radio announcements for the local pollen forecasts. If pollen counts are high, stay indoors and keep windows and doors of your home or vehicle closed. Use air conditioning because the air is cleaned and filtered as it enters your home or car.
  12. You can also talk to your doctor about finding out exactly what you are allergic to in order to use a more direct method to avoid that allergen.

Treatment

Antihistamines are commonly used to treat or prevent allergic reactions. Symptoms include, and can be in any combination of: runny nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, itchy skin and/or rash. Pay attention to labelling as some oral antihistamines can cause drowsiness. Other forms of antihistamines are nasal sprays, topical creams and eye drops.

Decongestants treat nasal congestion. So if you are having trouble breathing through your nose, a pill or nasal spray is available for short-term treatment as prolonged use can cause a rebound effect. Oral decongestants can increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Those with diabetes or uncontrolled blood pressure should consider a nasal spray instead.

A more direct approach is nasal irrigation. This involves rinsing of the nasal cavity of any allergens and debris with a non-irritating saline solution. You can find nasal irrigation kits in the pharmacy or you can make your own kit at home. Recipes for making saline solution and instructional videos are available online.

Corticosteroids are a prescription drug treatment used to treat allergies and are available in pill form, eye drops or nasal spray.

Seek medical advice when:

  • you have a fever
  • you have wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • you have a lot of green discharge from the nose
  • non-prescription drug treatment is ineffective.

Talk to your pharmacy specialist to learn more about allergies and the best treatment option for you, especially if you have any medical conditions or if you are taking medications.

Sources:

  • www. mayoclinic.com
  • www.webmd.com
  • www.nlm.nih.gov

The above information is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor, pharmacist or qualified health care professional to receive proper medical treatment.

Armalyn Tesoro is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy. She is currently working as a licensed community pharmacist at Wal-Mart on Ellice and Empress.

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