Allergy Treatments: 10 to Carry With You
You can't always predict when and where your indoor and outdoor allergies will hit. But when they do, the sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes, nose, throat, and skin can be hard to miss. Whether you take prescription medications for severe or ongoing allergies or find over-the-counter treatments enough to manage occasional mild flare-ups, you'll want to have the right allergy tools on hand to help you feel better.
Don't Forget These Go-To Allergy Essentials
No matter what the season or where you're going, know the 10 basic allergy essentials (many available both over-the-counter and in stronger, prescription form) you'll want to carry with you:
- Decongestants. It can treat your stuffy nose and head by shrinking inflamed blood vessels and reducing the flow of blood to your nasal and sinus tissues. Just be aware that some people experience troublesome side effects with decongestants, including an elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, and difficulty sleeping. So use this allergy treatment cautiously.
- Antihistamines. Antihistamines head off an allergy attack by blocking the release of a chemical that causes symptoms. Newer antihistamines on the market today offer long-lasting relief with minimal side effects, while older varieties are shorter acting and can make you drowsy. Some people take a combination decongestant and antihistamine to treat existing symptoms while preventing new ones.
- Nasal Sprays. Many nasal sprays get right to the root of your discomfort by addressing inflammation in your nasal passages and thinning mucus to help it flow better. (Using nasal sprays containing decongestants for more than a few days can cause a rebound effect.)
- Eye Drops. Eye drops can help dry, itchy, and watery eyes. For best results, look for ones that specifically addresses allergy symptoms, such as with an antihistamine. You can also use a dual action allergy eye drop that combines an antihistamine with a mast cell stabilizer to treat current symptoms and to prevent others.
- Asthma Inhaler. It's not uncommon for allergies to trigger asthma symptoms, such as chest tightness, coughing, and wheezing. A fast-acting relief inhaler can relax the muscles in your airways and help you breathe better.
- EpiPen®. When you're in danger of a life-threatening allergic reaction to insects or foods, it's crucial to always carry an EpiPen®. It contains adrenalin to reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis.
- Anti-Itch Cream. Some allergic reactions can irritate your skin and cause hives and/or a red, itchy rash. An anti-itch cream such as hydrocortisone can get to the root of the problem by addressing the inflammation, while using calamine lotion will soothe the irritated area and help reduce the itchiness.
- Pain Relievers. When allergies lead to a sinus headache, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen will minimize the pain while addressing the inflammation in your sinus cavity. If you're allergic to these types of pain relievers, talk to your doctor about safer alternatives.
- Throat Lozenges. Over-the-counter lozenges can moisten and soothe the lining of your throat when it becomes dry and irritated from allergies. Some throat lozenges contain an analgesic to treat the pain or an anesthetic to numb the area.
- Tissues. While preventing an allergy attack is your ultimate goal, it doesn't hurt to have a pack of tissues handy. This simple allergy tool can be just what the doctor ordered when you experience nasal symptoms.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "Hay Fever Medication." N.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2012.
Familydoctor.org. "Antihistamines: Understanding Your OTC Options." Feb. 2012. Web. 12 Sept. 2012.
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