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Allergy Medication Tips: How to Get the Most Out of Your Medications


Megan Fleischman, Aspirus Pharmacy Resident

It's that time of year again. Spring has sprung, but so have seasonal allergies. Also known as hay fever, seasonal allergies affect as many as 60 million people per year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Symptoms can occur during certain seasons or year-round, depending on the allergen, and include sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes, and throat irritation.


“There’s no cure for allergies, but there are a variety of medications available to help alleviate symptoms,” says Megan Fleischman, Aspirus Pharmacy Resident. “Remember to always consult with your health care provider before taking any medication, and to discuss the best allergy treatment plan for your individual needs.”


Here are some tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) to help you get the most out of your allergy medications:


Choose the Right Medication – There are many different types of allergy medications available, so it is important to choose the right one for your symptoms. Antihistamines are a common type of allergy medication that can help relieve sneezing, itching, and runny nose. Decongestants can help reduce congestion and sinus pressure. Nasal corticosteroids can help relieve inflammation and nasal congestion. Combination medications that include both an antihistamine and a decongestant are also available.


Follow Dosage Instructions – It is important to follow dosage instructions carefully when taking allergy medications. Taking too much medication can be harmful, while taking too little may not provide relief. Always read the label and follow the instructions provided by your health care provider or the package insert.


Take Medications at the Right Time – The timing of allergy medication can be important. Some medications, such as antihistamines, work best when taken before exposure to allergens. Others, such as decongestants, may be more effective when taken after exposure.


Be Aware of Side Effects – Allergy medications can have side effects, so it is important to be aware of these before taking them. Common side effects of antihistamines include drowsiness, dry mouth, and blurred vision. Decongestants can cause nervousness, jitteriness, and increased heart rate. Nasal corticosteroids can cause nasal irritation, sore throat, and nosebleeds.


Avoid Alcohol and Other Substances – Some allergy medications can interact with alcohol and other substances, such as certain medications or herbal supplements. It is important to read the label and talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking any new medications or supplements. Alcohol can also exacerbate certain allergy symptoms, such as nasal congestion and headache, so it is best to avoid it during allergy season.


Keep Medications on Hand – Allergy symptoms can strike at any time, so it is important to keep your medications on hand. Consider keeping a supply at home, at work, and in your car. This can help ensure that you have access to relief when you need it.


Consider Allergy Shots – If your allergies are severe or persistent, allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, may be an option. This treatment involves regular injections of small amounts of allergens over a period of several years. The goal of this treatment is to desensitize the immune system to allergens and reduce the severity of symptoms. It is important to talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of allergy shots.


If you are experiencing persistent or severe symptoms, talk to your health care provider about the best treatment options for you. You can talk to your provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about medications you are taking.


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