For millions of people all across the world, allergy relief is a daily and, in some cases, a lifetime goal. Wherever allergies abound, people can be found seeking allergy relief through over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs and natural treatments. In this article, we’ll cover the available allergy relief treatments and teach you a few ways to cut down on allergens to enable long-term allergy relief.
Over the Counter Allergy Relief
Over the Counter, or OTC, allergy relief can be found in your local store in the form of antihistamines and decongestants. These are usually allergy sufferers’ first line of defense.
Antihistamines provide allergy relief by blocking histamines. Histamines are released by the immune system when your body reacts to an allergen. Histamines cause swelling, redness, itching and changes in secretions such as watery eyes. Examples of OTC antihistamines are Claritin, Benadryl and Chlor-Trimeton.
Decongestants provide allergy relief by shrinking swollen nasal tissues and swollen blood vessels in the eyes. This results in relief from stuffiness, red eyes and congestion. Examples of OTC decongestants are Sudafed, Afrin nasal spray and Visine eye drops.
Prescription and Physician Controlled Allergy Relief
Prescription allergy relief comes in the form of antihistamines, decongestants, bronchodilators, corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers and immunotherapy. These are usually allergy sufferers’ second line of defense.
Antihistamines and decongestants were explained in the previous section. Examples of prescription antihistamines are Zyrtec, Allegra and Clarinex. Examples of prescription decongestants are Zyrtec-D, Allegra-D and Claritin-D.
Bronchodilators control asthma and reactive airways caused by allergies by dilating the bronchial tubes so it is easier to breathe. Examples of bronchodilators are Proventil, Xopenex and Maxair.
Corticosteroids are available as creams, pills, nasal sprays and eye drops. They provide allergy relief by reducing inflammation. Examples of corticosteroids are Flonase, Nasonex, Advair, Flovent, Alrex and prednisone.
Leukotriene modifiers provide allergy relief by blocking the actions of leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are released when the body encounters an allergen and cause inflammation. Leukotriene modifiers are often used to treat asthma and allergic rhinitis. An example of a leukotriene modifier is Singulair.
Immunotherapy is considered one of the most effective means of allergy relief. The immune system builds up a tolerance to allergens through regular injections of those allergens. Once a tolerance to the allergens is created, the immune system stops fighting those allergens that created allergic reactions.
Natural Allergy Relief
For many allergy sufferers, natural allergy relief is the way to go. Fortunately, there are herbs, spices and other natural methods available.
To help prevent allergies before they start, allergy sufferers should try using salt water to cleanse pollen or other airborne allergens from the sinuses. A Neti pot can help make this method much easier. Simply mix a solution of noniodized salt and warm water, tilt your head to one side and pour the salt-water solution into one nostril. Allow the salt-water solution to flow out the other nostril. Use half the solution this way and then switch to the other side. This method rinses pollen and other allergens out of your sinuses, thus easing and preventing allergic reactions.
Herbs that are recommended for natural allergy relief are butterbur, stinging nettle and quercetin. Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is an herb found in Europe, which acts as a natural antihistamine. Swiss studies show that Butterbur is as effective as the active ingredient found in Zyrtec, cetirizine, and doesn’t cause drowsiness. Stinging nettle performs as an antihistamine without the side effects of dry mouth and drowsiness. It can be taken in pill form, as a tincture or as tea. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that stops mast cells from producing histamines. It is best used as a preventative measure against allergies, but can also be taken to help fight allergies already being experienced.
Spices that help thin mucous secretions are cayenne pepper, fenugreek, ginger and cinnamon. These spices, along with onions and garlic, can be added to meals to help overcome congestion caused by allergies.
Allergy Relief through Allergen Reduction
Allergy medicines and natural herbs are fine ways to provide allergy relief, however, reduction of contact with allergens can also go a long way towards limiting allergic reactions. The following are ways to limit contact with allergens.
- Limit the amount of carpets or carpeting and clean carpets regularly by vacuuming and using natural cleaning products that kill dust mites.
- Use special allergen reducing filters for vacuums.
- Keep mattresses covered with washable mattress covers.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom and off the bed.
- Keep pets out of the house to avoid setting off allergies caused by pet dander, pollen and dust mites.
- If pets are in the house, bathe them frequently to remove pollen and pet dander.
- Wear a dust mask when dusting and vacuuming. Also, use products that pick up dust rather than spreading it around in the air.
- Stay indoors and keep windows closed during peak pollen times.
- Use air conditioners with special air filters and special filters for central heat and air to filter out allergens.
- Use an air purifier to remove allergens from the air.
- Wear a dust mask when working outside.
With all these methods for gaining allergy relief, allergy sufferers have more hope today than they have ever had before. Be sure to research and discuss all medicines and herbs with your doctor before using them.