By Fran Kritz
Healthnotes Newswire (March 26, 2009)—Want the most from medicines your doctor has recommended this allergy season? Then taking them at the right time is the best way to get rid of symptoms—but the right time may be earlier than you think.
Taking once-a-day antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays a week or so before spring and fall allergy seasons are set to start could put you ahead of the game, says Marjorie Slankard, professor of medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. For example, in many parts of the country, ragweed season starts in mid-August, so you’d want to start your medication around the second week. “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 the drug 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 cause sleepiness (ask your doctor or pharmacist if yours does).
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.
Explore other symptom relief
Medicines are important allergy management tools, but keep these points in mind for more relief:
• Over-the-counter saline sprays may help relieve a stuffy nose, and saline rinses can help flush pollen and other allergens and soothe irritated nasal passages
• Many people find relief using herbal remedies, such as nettle tea, and nutritional supplements such vitamin E
• 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 freelance writer from Silver Spring, Maryland. She tries to remember to take her allergy medicine before the sneezing starts.
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