Dodging Fall Allergy Discomfort

Healthnotes Newswire (September 17, 2009)—If you have noticed a reprise of your spring hay fever in the fall, then keep an eye on nature. Cooling weather gives plants a growth spurt that for some people means a return of itchy, sniffly allergy symptoms. Taking once-a-day antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays a little before allergy season starts could put you ahead of the game, according to Marjorie Slankard, professor of medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “Once you start taking antihistamines, there’s a maximum buildup by day five to seven,” says Dr. Slankard.

Take your allergy medicine every day

Keeping your dose of medicine constant will help relieve allergy symptoms, so be sure to take it every day.

• If your symptoms are worse in the morning, be sure to take it at night, recommends Dr. Slankard, as it will give the drug time to build up in your body and be effective when you most need it.

• Even though you can take allergy medicines at any time of day, taking them at bedtime is also a good idea if they sometimes cause sleepiness as a side effect.

Keep your medicine on hand

Be sure to renew and refill prescriptions on time so you always have your medicine when you need it.

Think ahead when you’re planning vacations or business trips and have prescriptions renewed or refilled beforehand, or be sure to carry your prescription and insurance information with you.

Ask your doctor and pharmacist the easiest way to renew and refill prescriptions, and mark your calendar.

More about symptom relief

Medicines are important, but keep these points in mind for more relief:

• Over-the-counter saline sprays and rinses (such as a “neti pot”) may help relieve a stuffy nose and remove irritating pollens from delicate nasal membranes.

• Many people find relief using herbal remedies and nutritional supplements.

• Sharing other people’s allergy relief products is never a good idea.

• Using air conditioning, instead of open windows, and using an air filter during allergy season can help keep pollen out.

• Showering before bed will allow you to sleep pollen-free.

Fran Kritz is a healthcare writer based outside Washington, DC. For several years she was the Washington correspondent for Drug Topics and Retail Pharmacy News. She has written on consumer health and health policy for the Washington Post,, and the Los Angeles Times.

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