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Pharmacist's Guide to Allergies

Our body comes into contact with harmless substances like pollen, grasses and other irritants. Our body mistakes these as intruders. Our immune system goes into "defense" mode leading to the eventual release of HISTAMINE...lots of HISTAMINE!

So what then are your options? There are many, each with different plusses and minuses. Speaking to your pharmacist when trying to treat your symptoms will put you on a path that's right for YOU!


Nasal Saline

  • Non-medication option

  • Safe for all ages

  • Flushes out the nasal hairs that do the filtering in your nose

  • Squirt bottle option by the brand name Ocean

  • Fine Mist option by the brand name Simply Saline

  • Weekly sinus rinse by the brand name NetiPot or SinuRinse

Nasal Steroids

  • Treats nasal inflammation

  • Should be used consistently for desired effect

  • Onset of relief in days - not immediate

  • Once daily dosing

  • Can dry the nasal area leading to nose bleeds

  • Flonase, Nasonex, Nasacort AQ - all with generics now that are affordable and over the counter at the pharmacy

Nasal Decongestants

  • shrinks the enlarged blood vessels that are causing congestion with QUICK onset and relief

  • use for less than 3 days only

  • can cause rebound congestion if used longer

  • short term symptomatic relief only

  • does not get to the root of allergies

  • SHORT TERM USE ONLY - less than 3 days

  • Brand name Afrin (oxymetazoline) but generic is great!

Oral Anti-Histamines

First Generation

  • Gold Standard

    • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)

      • MOST drowsiness

        • dosed every 4-6 hours

        • best for acute allergic reactions

  • Commonly causes drowsiness

  • MOST effective at blocking histamine

Second Generation

  • Developed as non-drowsy once daily options

    • Zyrtec (cetirizine)

      • 5-10% of users experience drowsiness

      • dosed once daily

      • best for night-time allergies taken at bedtime

    • Allegra (fexofenadine)

      • No drowsiness

      • dosed once daily

      • quickest onset of the once daily meds

    • Claritin (loratadine)

      • NO drowsiness

      • dosed once daily

      • least effective of the 2nd generation options

Mast Cell Stabilization

When the allergen attaches to the mast cell it triggers a release of histamine.

Mast cell stabilizers stop the mast cells from releasing the histamine

  • Singulair (Montelukast) -Prescription ONLY


Shower before bed to rinse off allergens and contaminants

Change your clothes when coming indoors

Keep windows and doors shut especially in the early morning when pollen counts are highest

Know the pollen counts in your area

So many options

So many ways to help your allergies

The choice is yours and there is help and guidance out there for you for the best allergy treatments!

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