Treating Your Allergy
You might want to reach for medicine right away. But actually, there’s something else doctors recommend that you do first.
Rinse your nose with salt water. A simple yet effective method for removing irritating pollen from your nose is to wash it out using a saline rinse and a bulb syringe or neti pot.
“It’s like washing your hands if you have a cat,” Demain says. “It’s especially helpful since tiny hairs in your nose trap the pollen.”
If you need more relief, doctors usually recommend the following, in this order:
Steroid nasal sprays. You don’t need a prescription for these products, whichhelp with seasonal allergy symptoms. “These are very effective, but they work best if you start early, before the allergy season begins,” Demain says.
Antihistamines. To ease your allergy symptoms, these medicines temporarily block the chemicals released in your nose and eyes that cause the itching and sneezing. You can buy them over-the-counter or by prescription. Some are pills. Others are eye drops.
Older formulas, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can cause sleepiness, but the so-called “second generation” of antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin) can work as long as 24 hours without causing drowsiness in most people. If you need a stronger medicine that lasts even longer, ask your doctor about prescription antihistamines such as levocetirizine (Xyzal). You can also get a prescription nasal antihistamine as a spray from you doctor.
Decongestants. Decongestants come as pills, eye drops, and liquids and are available over-the-counter. Nasal sprays can clear up a stuffed nose, but they won’t do anything for your itching or sneezing. They are only meant for temporary use and could actually cause a “rebound” effect, creating worse congestion if you take them for more than 3 days.
If you have asthma and allergies. The prescription pill montelukast (Singulair) has been used to treat asthma for years, and it has recently been found to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. It’s particularly helpful if you have the double whammy of asthma and allergies.