New allergy meds may offer relief
The trees and flowers are budding late this year due to an unusually cold spring. Doctors are starting to see more patients with allergy symptoms.
Pollen.com predicts pollen levels today are the highest level, 11.3 on a scale of 12. But Barbara Denton doesn't need a chart to tell her the pollen is here. She knows because she is sneezing a lot.
"I took over the counter the medication but that didn't seem to work," Denton said.
St. Francis Internist Dr. Steve Samuels says first try an antihistamine. He recommends Claritin and Allegra because they are non-sedating. Zyrtec is also popular and, he says, semi-non-sedating.
But if you are aren't getting relief, you may want to try a prescription nasal spray. Samuels says there are two new products on the market. The first is Qnasl.
"It is basically a much drier inhaler. Right now one of the biggest complaints people have with the steroid inhalers is that it drips down the back of their throat and this one doesn't. The mist comes like a powder, it coats in your sinuses doesn't drip down the back of the throat and patients like it a lot," Samuels said.
Prevention tips include staying inside, running the air conditioning and keeping the windows closed. But the warm weather is too appealing for Joyce Stingley. Despite her allergies, she likes to sit on the steps of Monument Circle during her lunch hour. For treatment, she uses a combination of therapies.
"I use Sudafed non-drying which makes everything open up, and ibuprofen. When the headaches get really bad I end up sitting with ice bags on the back of my neck and under my head," Stingley said.
If you too use multiple drugs you might want to consider Dymista. It is a new product that may simplify your dosing and cut your costs.
"Dymista is a combination of a steroid we use a lot plus an antihistamine in one nasal spray so it may cut down on co-pays for patients if they are paying both," Samuels said.
Finally, if you traditionally have spring allergies but don't have symptoms yet, Samuels suggest you take action now.
"Start the medication now get on your antihistamine or your nasal steroid combination, get ahead of the symptoms so you don't have to suffer. Because a lot of times, it will take the medicines three, four, seven days to kick in. That is a lot of suffering that you don't need to go through," Samuels said.
Here in Indiana, spring pollen levels are typically high for six weeks. You will get a bit of a break before the ragweed peaks in the fall.
Another option is to try dietary changes. While that may not work for everyone, it may be worth cutting out certain items for a few weeks at a time - for example, wheat, dairy or processed food with added sugar - to see if that makes a difference in your allergy symptoms.