Allergy Season Alert – Be prepared!

It’s coming. That season for pollen, grass or weed allergies. Soon you will groan and reach for medication, because you’ve started sneezing and have an itchy runny nose and eyes. Want to know how to make sure the medication does the best possible job of providing relief? Don’t wait till your symptoms build up – start your medication at the very first sign of an allergic reaction. Here’s why:

What happens when you have an allergic reaction?

The first time you are exposed to the allergen (e.g. pollen), your body produces an antibody called IgE that binds to the allergen. Together, they then attach to a type of blood cell called a mast cell, usually found in your airways. That causes the mast cell to release chemicals into the blood, including histamines. Histamines attach to cells in your body and cause them to swell and leak fluid. This is the itching, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes that you get.

How antihistamines work

For symptom relief, most people take an “antihistamine”. These medications block the action of histamines on your body. Antihistamines prevent the histamines from attaching to your cells and causing those miserable allergy symptoms.

Start early!

The trick is to block histamines as soon as possible. Try to anticipate, as best you can, when the pollen or other allergen that affects you is going to start building up in the air. Have your medication ready and take it at the very first allergic symptom so you can build up the level of antihistamines in your body. Don’t wait till your symptoms are really irritating – start your medication as early as possible.

TV weather channels and websites exist that can advise you when your allergen is starting to become a problem. But you probably already know what to expect if you’ve had your allergies for a few years. Be ready. That way, you lower the chances of letting the allergy symptoms take hold – and maybe you can even enjoy outdoor activities again.

When choosing an antihistamine, talk to your Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacist, who can help you find one that won’t cause problems with other medications you may be taking. Life Brand has several antihistamine options that might help, including Life Brand Allertin (loratadine), Life Brand Extra Strength Aller Relief (cetirizine), Life Brand Desloratadine and Life Brand Allergy Formula (diphenhydramine). If you choose diphenhydramine, just be aware that it can make you drowsy. Always read the labels carefully and make sure you follow the directions.