Spring’s arrival brings sun, pollen and allergies|
by Capt. Alison Ney
42nd Medical Group
3/28/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Spring is here, which means seasonal allergies are not far behind. Grass is starting to grow again, and trees, shrubs and flowers also will start to bloom. Pollen from grass, trees, shrubs and flowers is released into the air and can make many people suffer from sneezing, itching, congestion and runny noses. Allergy symptoms can be prevented by taking action early. If one is a seasonal allergy sufferer, prevention can start now. Many people experience flare-ups due to exposure to new allergens during spring and summer vacations.
There are many approved, over-the-counter products for almost everyone over the age of 6. Products include eye drops, saline nasal spray and antihistamine tablets. If itchy eyes are one's only issue, then eye drops with an antihistamine work best. If one suffers from multiple symptoms, including runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing, then antihistamine tablets might work well. One can choose from brand name or generic Allegra® (fexofenadine), Claritin® (loratidine) or Zyrtec® (cetirizine). These tablets are taken once a day to prevent and treat seasonal allergy symptoms. If one suffers from occasional nasal congestion, try a saline nasal spray as needed. Saline nasal spray rinses out the inside of the nose to get rid of allergens that cause congestion. If one has questions, ask one of the pharmacists at a retail drug store to help choose the best product needed. These products also can be found at the Maxwell BX or commissary.
Sometimes one may need a prescription from a primary care manager, especially if being treated for other conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or pregnancy. The PCM can prescribe specific allergy eye drops, nasal sprays and antihistamine pills. Antihistamines stop the symptoms of itching, sneezing and runny nose. Products containing pseudoephedrine will help clear up nasal congestion but should be used with caution by people who have high blood pressure. One can find some of these products behind the counter at a retail drug store. It is best to have open communication with one's PCM about all of the symptoms one is experiencing. To contact a PCM, send a MiCare message or call the appointment line at 953-3368.
If one has used a product in the past that worked, the same product should be used again this year. Consider taking an oral antihistamine tablet at the first sign of seasonal allergies or a few weeks before allergy season to prevent allergy symptoms. It is important to keep using the product throughout the entire allergy season even if symptoms disappear. Two or three different products can be used together, which will help provide the most relief. Other tips to help prevent seasonal allergy symptoms are to keep car and house windows closed and use air conditioning. Also, take a shower before bedtime to rinse allergens from skin and hair. If one has additional questions, call the Maxwell pharmacy at 953-6868 and ask to speak with a pharmacist.