Are Your OTC Allergy Meds Enough?
Not getting allergy relief? Talk to your First Opinion doctor for the right diagnoses and potential prescription!
It seems like every year, allergy season is the worst one yet – see 2014, 2015, 2016. If you’re one of the 50 million people who suffer from seasonal allergies, it might be easiest to grab some more Claritin or Zyrtec even if you’re not getting much relief this year. However, you may want to consider talking to a medical professional for two reasons:
You may not have seasonal allergies. Unless you’re checking up with your medical provider regularly, don’t be 100% certain you’re dealing with pollinic or other environmental irritants. In a survey of 621 allergy patients, only 36% reported talking to their doctor when they had allergy symptoms. Among that group, almost 50% self-diagnosed their symptoms as allergies when really they had a sinus infection, or sinusitis. Other common misdiagnoses of allergies are shown below.
You may be using the wrong treatment. For some, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications are enough to ease symptoms. But if your seasonal allergies are still bothersome, especially as your immune system and the environment changes (two primary causes of adult onset seasonal allergies), a number of other treatments are available.
- For longer-term, daily allergy symptoms, doctors may recommend an antihistamine or steroid nasal spray (some have recently become OTC). These will work to prevent symptoms, instead of just suppressing them, by stopping production of proteins that cause inflammation and helping to produce proteins that suppress immune responses. Current allergy guidelines no longer recommend oral antihistamines as first-line therapy, because of potential side effects. The newer nose sprays tend to have less side effects, and help control symptoms better than your typical “allergy pill.”
- Your doctor can prescribe skin tests or blood tests to find out exactly what allergens trigger your symptoms. Testing can help determine what steps you need to take to avoid your specific triggers and identify which treatments are likely to work best for you. As an example, you may only be allergic to a particular type of pollen (birch, ragweed, mugwort, etc.).
- For some people, allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) can be a good option. Also known as desensitization, this treatment involves regular injections containing tiny amounts of the substances that cause your allergies. Over time, these injections reduce the immune system reaction that causes symptoms. For some allergies, treatment can be given as tablets under the tongue.
For more information on how First Opinion is a great resource for seasonal allergies, read our guide, complete with FAQs and preventative techniques, here.
At First Opinion, one of our doctors can help you determine, and provide in some states, the right treatment or tests for your particular allergic symptoms. Unlike many typical office visits, your First Opinion team will be available to check-in and monitor your condition on a regular basis to ensure your allergies are under control. Talk to a First Opinion doctor today!