Sometimes seasonal allergies are called hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis. These allergies can hinder your work, daily activities, etc. Allergies can also cause or exacerbate symptoms of asthma and lead to other health issues such as infections of the sinus (sinusitis) and ear infections, especially in children.
An allergy is an abnormal reaction of the body to a foreign substance, which is called an allergen. If your body is exposed to an allergen, your immune system combats it by releasing endogenous substances such as histamines. Histamine is the substance that is responsible for producing symptoms such as sneezing, itching, red and, watery eyes.
Allergy medications belonging to a class of drugs such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, and nasal decongestants are most commonly used.
Seasonal allergies are generally trigged by plant pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds in the spring, and by ragweed and other weeds, which come in late summer and early fall.
Since you cannot remain indoors all the time during high pollen count, your doctor can suggest prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat allergy symptoms.
Antihistamines are class of allergy medications that work by blocking the action of histamine and are available in numerous forms, including tablets and liquids. Most of the oral antihistamines are sold over-the-counter and in generic form. Antihistamine nasal sprays are sold only on prescription.
First-generation antihistamines can produce drowsiness and affect the ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. Second-generation antihistamines have lesser side effects and are less likely to induce drowsiness as compared to the first-generation antihistamines.
Nasal corticosteroids are to be sprayed into the nose one or two times in a day to reduce inflammation and allergy symptoms. The common side effects of these allergy medications include stinging sensation in the nose, bleeding from the nose, etc. These are available OTC and on prescription.
Decongestants are medications that are sold both on prescription and OTC and available as oral and nasal sprays. They are occasionally recommended in combination with antihistamines in few cases of nasal congestion.
Do not use decongestant nose sprays and drops for longer duration as they may produce a rebound effect, which means it can aggravate your nasal congestion. These allergy medications are more effective for short-term use for relieving nasal congestion.
There are other allergy medications that your physician or pharmacist can suggest. Discuss with your doctor or pharmacist to select the most appropriate allergy medication for you.
Immunotherapy is an alternative option. In one type immunotherapy is allergy shots. In this type, your body reacts to injected amounts of a specific allergen, given in progressively increasing doses, by developing immunity or tolerance to that allergen.
Another type of immunotherapy includes giving allergens in a form of tablet under the tongue (sublingual) daily, before and during the pollen season.
Use allergy medications with caution in children as some medicines are safe to use in kids as young as two years, while some allergy medication may not be safe to use in children below 12 years.
Thus, allergy medications effectively treat seasonal allergies.