Sniffle less, enjoy more

Seasonal allergies affect more than 35 million people in the United States. The most common causes are pollens and mold spores in the air in the spring and fall. And that’s when people who have seasonal allergies start to see increased symptoms. Symptoms are different for each person, but they can include sneezing, congestion, runny nose, and itchiness in the nose, mouth, throat, eyes, and ears. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the season.

Reduce your exposure

  • Keep windows closed to prevent pollens or molds from drifting into your home. Instead, if needed, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries the air.
  • Stay indoors when the pollen count or humidity is reported to be high, and on windy days when dust and pollen are blowing through the air.
  • Get out of town. Take a vacation during the height of the pollen season to a more pollen-free area, such as the beach.
  • Avoid yard work that stirs up pollen or molds, such as mowing lawns and raking leaves.
  • Close your car windows and keep the air system on recirculate.
  • Tumble dry laundry. Avoid hanging sheets or clothing outside to dry — pollens and molds can collect in them.

Start early, end late

Start taking your allergy medication before your symptoms start. If you get allergies in the spring, when pollen counts are high, start taking your medication a month early and keep taking the medication until allergy season ends, usually in July. And take any prescribed medication at the recommended dosage. Taking more medication than recommended will not relieve your symptoms.

Get over-the-counter relief

These days, most of the best medications to treat allergies are available over the counter. Sarah Levy, MD, of Kaiser Permanente Washington recommends taking a non-sedating antihistamine daily. For milder symptoms, taking it from time to time as needed can also work.

Examples of non-sedating antihistamines include:

  • Fexofenadine (Allegra)
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec or Aller-Tec)
  • Loratadine (Claritin or Alavert)

If antihistamines don’t provide enough relief, try adding a nasal spray such as:

  • Fluticasone (Flonase or ClariSpray)
  • Triamcinolone (Nasacort)
  • Budesonide (Rhinocort)

Nasal sprays can be very effective, but they can take 2 to 4 weeks of daily use before they start to work.

For itchy eyes, Ketotifen (Zaditor) eye drops can help.

If you take any medications, talk to a pharmacist before starting any new over-the-counter medication. Or call our 24/7 Consulting Nurse helpline 1‑800‑297‑6877 for advice.
At Kaiser Permanente, we’re here to help you feel better, with many convenient care options, including online visits and walk-in clinics.

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