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Treating Allergies at Night

Are allergies keeping you awake?

Which allergy medications can help nighttime allergy symptoms?

Two types of allergy medications may help nighttime allergies.  "Antihistamines may help with sneezing and postnasal drip," Berger says, while decongestant medications help with the stuffiness and nasal congestion."

But Berger also suggests that a better approach to treating allergies might be the inhaled nasal steroids and intranasal antihistamines. "These inhaled nasal puffs and sprays address all four allergy symptoms of sneezing, itching, runny nose and mucus formation, and nasal congestion and swelling of the mucous membranes."

If you try the inhaled nasal steroids, Berger advises taking these two weeks before pollen season begins to prevent allergy symptoms. You may plan on staying on inhaled nasal steroids for months, if needed, to keep allergies at bay and avoid sleep deprivation.

If you're allergic to your pet, Berger suggests seeing an allergist before you consider giving away the family dog or cat.

"Many things can trigger symptoms of allergies such as nasal congestion, even nonallergic rhinitis caused by changes in temperature or weather. See an allergist to find out if you truly have allergies before making drastic changes at home."

Can nasal saline rinses help reduce allergies?

Arizona-based pulmonologist Paul Enright, MD, has had allergies since childhood.  During allergy seasons, when his nose gets clogged with mucus and he has postnasal drainage, he uses a salt water sinus rinse, often during an evening shower, in order to keep his nasal passages clear throughout the night. 

It's important to note that, according to the CDC, if you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution. It’s also important to rinse the irrigation device (such as a neti pot or suction bulb) after each use and leave open to air dry.

"If your nose is clogged, you have to breathe through your mouth all night. This eliminates the natural air conditioning function of the nose and may cause restless sleeping," Enright says.

When grass and weed pollen levels are high in Arizona, to reduce inflammation and congestion in his nose, he also uses a prescription nasal corticosteroid spray about 1/2 hour after the sinus rinse. 

"It's important to point nose sprays towards the center of your head, not towards your eyebrows. The sinuses and inner ears drain deep inside your nose, and that's where you want the nose spray to be concentrated for maximum benefit."

Enright also recommends drinking more water, which works to thin mucus. Thin mucus does not stick to the back of the throat and cause postnasal drip. You'll know that you're well-hydrated if you're hitting the bathroom frequently.  

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