Allergic rhinitis – seasonal allergies

Who?

Many people have seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are common in people who also have asthma, eczema, and food allergies. This is called atopy and runs in families.  In medical school I was taught people under 2 years old cannot get seasonal allergies. I now disagree with this “fact” and have seen infants with clear seasonal allergy symptoms that resolve with treatment.

Symptoms

People with seasonal allergies get runny noses – usually clear discharge. People get itchy, irritated, red eyes that water. Children will rub their eyes and nose causing creases in their nose and below their eyes. People who are pale can get “allergic shiners” or purple below their eyes. Some people get post-nasal drip (when nasal drainage goes down the throat) which can cause coughing or a sore throat.

Treatment

Several over-the-counter medications can treat seasonal allergies. Nasal inhaled steroid sprays can help. Examples are Flonase (fluticasone), Nasocort (triamcinolone), or budesonide nasal spray. These sprays help all symptoms of allergic rhinitis but can take 2 weeks of consistent use for full effect. They should be used for the duration of the allergy season. They are safe for children and fluticasone is approved down to age 4. If the dose on the package isn’t managing symptoms contact your doctor as often the dose can be safely increased to a prescription dose.

Another option is non-sedating antihistamines which I have discussed previously here. Examples are loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec). Cetirizine is sedating to 10% of people so can be used in the evening.

How to save money on you allergy treatment

Most of the medication for allergies are now over-the-counter and not covered by insurance. Nasal sprays can be purchased in multi-packs from Amazon. This is especially useful if multiple members of the family are using the sprays. Antihistamines are cheaper the larger size bottle that you buy and can also be bought on Amazon. You can sign up for emails from major pharmacies such as Walgreen’s and CVS and get coupons as well.

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