After what we can all admit was a brutal winter, spring is finally here. While we can all look forward to the green grass, spring flowers, and blooming trees, some of us know that this is the time for springtime allergies. Trees are starting to pollenate and grasses will begin pollenating in May. May is usually the worst due to the overlap of tree pollen, grass pollen, and mold. Nasal drainage, postnasal drainage, sneezing, itchy eyes are the most common symptoms, which vary from mild and intermittent to constant and disabling. Luckily there are good over the counter preparations for relief. The oldest allergy pill that is available is diphenhydramine, commonly known as Benadryl. This is effective; however, it can be very sedating. The newer second and third-generation non-sedating antihistamines have been available over the counter for many years. These include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra), and others. Nasal steroids are available over the counter now and include fluticasone (Flonase) and triamcinolone (Nasacort). These are all effective and safe. If symptoms persist despite these over the counter preparations, someone may seek help from a medical provider to look into other options.
Michael McCleary, MD