Managing Seasonal Allergies

March 19, 2015
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Spring and Summer are active times of the year for people living in the Atlanta area. Love is in the air, in more ways than one. Trees and grasses release pollen into the air as part of their reproductive cycles. Life is good, unless you are a person with allergies to those pollens.

The best way to deal with allergies is to simply avoid the allergen, the irritant that causes the uncomfortable allergy symptoms in the person. Some common ways to reduce the presence of allergens include frequently washing bedding, closing windows and doors, remaining indoors during high pollen count days, eliminating possible sources for mold growth and regularly vacuuming carpet in a house or apartment.

If that is not entirely possible, many people will use over-the-counter antihistamines available at many pharmacies. The newer antihistamines, fexofenadine (Allegra®), loratadine (Claritin®) and cetrizine (Zyrtec®), are preferred over the older antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-trimeton), because the newer antihistamines cause less drowsiness.

Patients with asthma or other breathing issues should consult with Dr. Chacko before taking an antihistamine, because antihistamines can cause additional problems. Patients with glaucoma and compromised urinary tract function issues may also have problems with antihistamines.

There are combination formulations with antihistamines and nasal decongestants, which are often behind the counter at a pharmacy. The nasal decongestant, pseudoephedrine, is subject to federal laws in purchasing the product. There is a limit to the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be purchased on one day and over one month. The purchases are tracked in a national database via the purchaser’s driver’s license or the purchaser’s state identification card. The purchaser will sign a statement attesting that they will not manufacture methamphetamine. The nasal decongestants can cause problems with people with high blood pressure and people taking antidepressants, so a physician’s care is recommended in those circumstances.

If the allergy problems worsen, a person should consult with Dr. Chacko for more options on treatments. Allergy shots or drops can be a very effective treatment for severe allergies and this may be an option.

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Dr. Chacko and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN. See the video here.