ALLERGIES: PICK THE RIGHT PRODUCT TO RELIEVE YOUR SYMPTOMS
Baffled by all the over-the-counter products available to treat indoor or outdoor allergies (also called allergic rhinitis)? Here is some information to help you choose the right product for your needs.
Warning! The products mentioned in this article are not all designed to treat serious allergies like food allergies.
ALLERGY SYMPTOMS TREATMENT AND RELIEF
For a gentle relief: Saline Solutions
When to use:
after an outdoor activity during pollen or allergy season
according to personal preference:
- Nasal irrigation products
- Keep saline solution handy at home. It can be useful for all kinds of things, including allergic rhinitis, colds, sinusitis and more.
- If you have high blood pressure, saline formulas are your best option as opposed to decongestant, which can increase your blood pressure.
- Nasal irrigation products, which send saltwater from one nostril to the other through the sinuses, are considered more effective than sprays for treating congestion and are not as complicated to use as they may sound. Your health professional can explain how to use them.
For a quick relief: antihistamines
How they work:
Block histamine, one of the substances released by the body that cause typical allergy symptoms.
|Main Benefit||Side effects||Lasts|
4 to 6 hours
Cetirizine, desloratadine, fexofenadine, and loratadine
12 to 24 hours
According to personal preference:
For occasional allergy symptoms, an antihistamine in tablet form is a good choice as it is fast-acting. Where possible, take it before you are exposed to the allergen, for example, before you leave home to visit a friend who has a cat.
For nasal congestion relief: Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays
Make sure you carefully follow the instructions for using sprays, so you maximize their efficacy while minimizing the risk of side effects. Your health professional can show you how. These products can take several days before they become fully effective.
In Canada, certain corticosteroid nasal sprays are sold over or behind the counter, while others require a prescription. In some provinces, a health professional can prescribe these products in specific circumstances. Ask your healthcare professional.
For a temporary yet effective relief: Decongestants
- All-in-one products such as “cold and sinus”–type products*
- It is important NOT to use it more often or for longer than recommended, to avoid increasing the risk of side effects such as rebound congestion (caused by the overuse of the decongestant nasal spray).
- If you have high blood pressure, decongestants are not your best option as they may increase your blood pressure. Use saline formulas instead.
- Before taking it, check the list of active ingredients to make sure you aren’t already getting the same ingredients in another product.
- If you are using a decongestant spray, avoid taking any all-in-one allergy products that also contain a decongestant (or stop using the spray).
*Oral formulas are not recommended for long-time use, as they can cause some side effects over time. Do not use “cold and sinus” all-in-one products to treat allergies. They may contain ingredients that are ineffective against allergy symptoms. While some of the symptoms are similar, their cause is different, as are the medications used to relieve them.
The impact of allergies on asthma and other chronic conditions
If you have asthma, stick to your asthma treatment and treat allergy symptoms as soon as they appear. Allergies, when compounded by poorly controlled asthma, can worsen asthma symptoms.
If you have a chronic disease, consult your health professional before taking any over-the-counter allergy medication. Some products may not be right for your condition. Don’t wait to treat your allergies, as they can seriously hamper your daily activities and your sleep. If you need help choosing the right product for your needs, ask your health professional.
The pharmacy services presented in this section are offered by pharmacist owners who are affiliated with PROXIM. The pharmacists are solely responsible for the professional activities carried out during the practice of pharmacy.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.