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April 4, 2016

April Showers Bring May Allergies

Dr. Jacob Brayboy, MD

An old saying claims that “April showers bring May flowers.”  But along with the flowers come the runny nose, itchy eyes, and cough.  Allergy symptoms are common this time of year and can be rather uncomfortable.  So what can be done to help avoid and treat these bothersome symptoms?

The best treatment of seasonal allergies (also called “allergic rhinitis”) is to avoid the things that trigger your allergies.  Though this sounds like common sense it can’t be overstated.  If you know what things trigger your allergies (these are called “allergens”) then try to avoid them as much as possible.  According to the American Academy of Family Physicians “patients with allergic rhinitis should avoid exposure to cigarette smoke, pets, and allergens that are known to trigger their allergies”.  If you smoke then this can make managing your (and the people around you) allergies very difficult.  To stop smoking call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or talk with an Avance Care medical provider to discuss strategies to stop smoking.

As far as medication management of allergies goes, there are two main treatments that are recommended for initial treatment:  nasal sprays containing steroids and non-drowsy antihistamines.  Multiple medical organizations recommend the nasal sprays (examples include the brand names Flonase, Nasacort, and Rhinocort) for the treatment of stubborn allergy symptoms affecting a patient’s quality of life.  These same organizations recommend the antihistamine medications (examples include the brand names Clarintin, Clarinex, and Allegra) for less severe allergy symptoms.  Most patients with allergies will improve with these medications.

If the treatments listed above do not help with your symptoms then there are other treatments.  These include Benadryl, Astelin, Afrin, Sudafed, Cromolyn, and Singulair.  However, these treatments may have more side effects (examples include drowsiness and elevated blood pressure) and may cost more money.  Therefore, it is important to try the nasal sprays containing steroids or the non-drowsy antihistamines first.

What if none of the above stuff works?  There’s still hope.  Immunotherapy is a type of allergy treatment where a small amount of allergen is given to a patient either under the skin or under the tongue.  By doing this your body will eventually react less over time to the allergen.  This involves several treatments, takes weeks to help a patient, and should be done in the clinic to ensure no serious reaction.  If you feel as though this may be an option for you please discuss this with your medical provider here at Avance Care as this is a service that we do offer.

We at Avance Care want to keep our patients healthy and happy so if there is anything that we can do to help you as Spring time marches on please let us know.  Enjoy the flowers!


Reference:  “Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis” in American Family Physican. December 1, 2015.  Pages 985-992.

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