What are allergies? In general, an allergic response is an over-reaction by the immune system.
What causes the immune system to overreact? Typically the trigger is an allergen. Common allergens include dust mites, pollen, and pet danders. In Texas the pollen most often comes from ragweed or mountain cedar plants. These are harmless to people with normal, healthy immune systems but avoided like the plague by people with hypersensitive, overreacting immunesystems.
What can be done to help those people with overreacting immune systemes, i.e. thise people with seasonal or year-round allergies? There are different allergy medications available on the market to treat allergy symtpoms. Here is the list of some of the best allergy medicines available in Texas. Over-the-counter (OTC) allergy drugs once reqired a prescription from your doctor, but after years of use, the FDA determined they were safe to use by the general public.
The first-line treatment for seasonal allergies is an intranasal corticosteroid such as fluticasone propionate (Flonase). These sprays are available without a prescription and you can use them as-needed. Nasal steroid sprays have been shown to help with both nasal symptoms of runny nose and congestion, as well as eye symptoms. When using these sprays, it is important to direct the spray away from the nasal septum, as there have been some cases ofnosebleeds from using these sprays. If this happens, stop using the medication and let your doctor know.
Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratidine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra) can also be quite helpful. The key is to take the medicine before symptoms develop, such as early in the morning. Another important thing to remember is that some of these medications can cause drowsiness and should be used cautiously during the day, especially if you are driving.
Nasal decongestant sprays such as phenylephrine and oxymetazoline (Afrin) should be used cautiously. Although they may work well in the short term when used occasionally, if used regularly for more than a few days (approximately five days), you may find your nose more congested than usual. Using these sprays too often causes a biochemical change in certain receptors on your cells, resulting in a vicious cycle of dependence — the more you use it, the worse your symptoms, and the more you need to use it. If this happens, stop using the medication, and talk to your doctor about switching to another typeof nasal spray (intranasal glucocorticoid spray) which has beeb shown to help with this condition.
Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine may help reduce symptoms as well. You should also use these medications cautiously. They mainly work by constricting blood vessels, and may cause side effects such as increased blood pressure, palpitations, headaches, nervousness, and irritability. These medications should not be used by patients with a history of uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems, strokes, glaucoma, or other conditions.