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Itching for Allergy Relief

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Avoid Pollen

Once you know you have seasonal allergies, try to avoid pollen as much as possible, says Chowdhury. Pay attention to pollen counts and try to stay indoors when pollen levels are highest. Pollen counts measure how much pollen is in the air (pollen level) and are expressed in grains of pollen per square meter of air collected during a 24-hour period.

  • In the late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the morning.
  • In the spring and summer, during the grass pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the evening.
  • Some molds, another allergy trigger, may also be seasonal. For example, leaf mold is more common in the fall.
  • Sunny, windy days can be especially troublesome for pollen allergy sufferers.

It may also help to

  • keep windows closed in your house and car and run the air conditioner
  • avoid mowing grass and doing other yard work, if possible
  • wear a face mask designed to filter pollen out of the air and keep it from reaching nasal passages, if you must work outdoors

Medications

FDA regulates medications that offer allergy relief. Here's a rundown of drug options that can help you survive the sneezing season:

Nasal corticosteroids: These are typically sprayed into the nose once or twice a day to treat inflammation. Drugs in this category include Nasonex (mometasone furoate) and Flonase (fluticasone propionate). Side effects may include stinging in the nose.

Oral and nasal antihistamines: These drugs, whether OTC or prescription, counteract the action of histamine, a substance released in the body during an allergic reaction. Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and Chlor-Trimeton (chlorpheniramine) are examples of OTC antihistamines. Drowsiness is a common side effect, so don't take these types of drugs when you have to drive, operate machinery, or do other activities that require you to be alert.

Non-sedating OTC antihistamines include Claritin and Alavert (both loratadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine). Zyrtec may cause mild drowsiness. Some non-sedating antihistamines, such as Clarinex (desloratadine) and Allegra (fexofenadine), are available by prescription. Many oral antihistamines are available OTC and in generic form.