Seasonal allergies — also called hay fever — can make us feel terrible. The runny nose. The sinus congestion. The constant sneezing. The itchy eyes.
Luckily, seasonal allergies can be controlled by reducing your exposure to allergens and using medication to prevent and treat symptoms.
Reducing Your Exposure to Allergens
Allergens are the microscopic particles that cause our seasonal allergies. The most common allergens are pollen, mold, dust and pollution. Here are some ways to limit your exposure to these allergens:
- Take a shower at the end of the day before you go to bed. Your body — especially your face and hair — become covered in allergens throughout the day. You want to remove those allergens so you are not exposed to them all night long. You can feel better in the morning if you shower at night.
- Wash your sheets, pillowcase, blankets and comforter regularly. You spend almost one third of your life in your bed... more than any other place. Make sure your bed is not filled with dust by washing your sheets regularly. We all get busy and don't wash our bedding as often as we should.
- Minimize your time outside when the pollen count is high or the ozone level is 'bad.' Sometimes you don't have a choice and you just have to be outside, but if you can, stay inside with the windows closed on days with a lot of allergens.
- If you have a basement and can afford it, use a dehumidifier. You can buy a dehumidifier at Walmart or a hardware store for about $200. Basements tend to be damp and dampness leads to mold. Keep your basement as dry as possible by using a dehumidifier that 'sucks' the moisture out of the air and helps prevent mold from growing.
Allergy Medications to Prevent & Treat Symptoms
Here are some medications that prevent and treat seasonal allergy symptoms:
- Nasal steroid spray. Look for a generic allergy nasal spray with the medication fluticasone. Fluticasone is the generic version of the brand name Flonase and is available over-the-counter without a prescription. For example, the Walmart version is called Equate Allergy Relief and costs $8.00. The brand name Flonase costs $17.00.
- Pseudoephedrine pills. This medication is available over-the-counter as well — but you have to go to the pharmacy counter to ask for it and show your ID. Pseudoephedrine is the generic version of the brand name Sudafed medication. The Walmart version is called Equate Severe Allergy Plus Sinus Headache and costs $2.52 for 20 pills ($0.13 each). Brand-name Sudafed costs $9.55 for 36 pills ($0.27 each).
- Non-drowsy antihistamine pills. These medications include fexofenadine (generic version of Allegra), cetirizine (generic version of Zyrtec) and loratadine (generic version of Claritin). All are available over-the-counter, with the generic version being less expensive than the brand name.
- Drowsy antihistamine pills. Diphenhydramine is the generic version of Benadryl. It is just as effective as (and for some people even more effective than) the non-drowsy antihistamine pills. However, it will make you drowsy. Some people use diphenhydramine at home in the evenings so that if they become too drowsy, they can just go to bed.
How Telemedicine Can Help
If your employer or school provides you with First Stop Health Telemedicine, this service is a great way to get care in MINUTES via phone or video. First Stop Health doctors can write prescriptions* when appropriate, including for over-the-counter allergy medications that might be covered by your insurance, HSA or FSA.
Request a visit to get relief today!
*Prescription costs applicable to your medical plan.