How to Choose the Right Allergy Medication?
Seasonal allergies triggered by pollen from trees, grasses, weeds or flowers can significantly affect your well-being, causing symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, and watery, itchy eyes. As soon as allergy season hits, many people suffering from hay fever head to their closest pharmacy for a symptom relief. In many cases, they choose a wrong allergy medication, according to a new study.
Why Do People Choose Wrong Allergy Meds?
The study was conducted this year in Australia and involved about 300 people suffering from hay fever-like symptoms. The participants were approached when they were shopping in a number of community pharmacies of Sydney. The majority of these people were females older than 40 years.
Researchers found that instead of visiting a doctor (or at least consulting with a pharmacist), many of those with seasonal allergy symptoms just buy the first hay fever treatment they see in a drug store.
Thus, only 63 percent of the people approached had an actual doctor diagnosis, while the vast majority of them experienced symptoms ranging from moderate to severe and affecting their daily life. What is more, about 70 percent didn’t even consult with the pharmacist when choosing an allergy treatment. One of the most common choices were oral antihistamine, such as Zyrtec (cetirizine), Xyzal (levocetirizine), Claritin (loratadine) or Allegra (fexofenadine).
The study findings showed that only 17 percent of the participants managed to select an appropriate medication. Interestingly, people were slightly more likely to choose the right medicine for mild symptoms, than for moderate or severe symptoms.
When it comes to a symptom like wheezing, an optimal treatment was chosen in only 6 percent of cases.
According to statistics, over 30 percent of the world’s population has allergic rhinitis. And while the study mentioned above was published in Australia, some American specialists working with allergy sufferers think that the results might be quite similar, if it had been done in the United States.
What’s the Best Approach to Allergy Treatment?
To find relief from seasonal allergies, a lot of people use antihistamine pills first.
Yet, the best way to prevent the symptoms is not to use medication, but to avoid the allergen in the first place. For example, if you are allergic to pollen, you may want to stay inside on a day when the pollen counts are high.
Antihistamines work by blocking the effect of histamine in the body and they can be very helpful. However, they are associated with a number of side effects, which is why experts recommend that people start with nasal corticosteroids.
According to an expert working with the New York University, nasal steroid sprays are a better option for congestion, sneezing and runny nose. They can help to reduce the symptoms of both allergic and nonallergic rhinitis.
Nonallergic rhinitis is a condition similar to hay fever, that causes sneezing and runny nose. However, experts say that unlike allergies, nonallergic rhinitis doesn’t involve the immune system.
The difference between the two conditions may be difficult tell and knowing what’s triggering them is important. Common allergy triggers include pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mold, while nonallergic rhinitis is often a result of exposure to changes in temperatures or chemicals and perfumes. It is possible for a person to experience both conditions.
In case nasal corticosteroids alone don’t help to reduce the symptoms, you can then get over-the-counter antihistamine pills. According to specialists, it may also be a good idea to try nasal antihistamine.
Speaking of nasal decongestants, experts recommend that you don’t use them for more than one week. Otherwise, there is a risk of an adverse effect. If you use a decongestant long-term, your body will need more and more of it. Besides, decongestants, especially oral ones are contraindicated in people with high blood pressure or heart disease.
If over-the-counter treatments don’t seem to be doing the job or if your symptoms are just impossible to control, make sure to arrange a visit to a doctor.
If you leave your symptoms untreated, your quality of life may suffer a lot and you may even develop further health complications. Therefore, it is important that you seek professional help in time.