Help for Ragweed Allergy
This promises to be the worst allergy season because of the crazy weather. Here are some steps to help you.
Which method of treatment is best? Pills, cortisone nasal spray, or allergy sprays? Unfortunately it is difficult to predict if Claritin or Zyrtec will give you better relief than Flonase or Nasonex. If Claritin works, usually that is the least expensive. Some expensive allergy type nasal sprays such as Astepro may work when pills fail. The advantage of the nasal sprays is that they are localized to the nose whereas pills go to the entire body. Benadryl is a common antihistamine that has the advantage of making you sleepy.
Don’t bring pollen into the house. Change outside clothing and shower, include washing your hair. Pets bring pollen into the house and need to be washed too.
When you have ragweed, your normal body thermostat erroneously has you sneeze and hack in order to adjust your body temperature. It is important to avoid getting chilled. Have hot tea before arising out of bed to avoid morning symptoms. Carry a jacket to avoid chilling when going in and out of air-conditioned buildings. Think of allergy like arithmetic: Pollen plus perfumed lipstick plus getting chilled, plus fatigue, plus eating spicy foods equals symptoms. If you reduce some of the arithmetic, you can reduce your symptoms.
Whenever possible use air conditioning because that is filtered air. Especially while driving. Driving open air can multiply the number of pollen particles that enter your nose, and therefore increase your symptoms. Do not drive in a convertible if at all possible. Avoid driving behind a diesel bus or truck.
Plants pollinate, approximately at 5 AM and 5 PM. This is when your bedroom windows need to be closed.
The bedroom is the most important place to do allergy prevention. The goal is NOT to provide a filter sufficient to take care of the dust and pollen. The goal is to reduce quantity of dust- no wall-to-wall carpet, no drapes or hangings that can give off dust. Use glass or plastic curtains. Ideally allergen free pillows and mattresses. No matter what you do, if the humidity is over 50% you will get mold so do watch that level. Pets? Keep them out of the bedroom. If your filter is too noisy you can run it during the day and turn it off at night. Further details can be obtained by calling allergy specialty companies such as Allergy Buyers Club. 1-888-236-7231
Start pills before season
Current thinking is that you should start allergy pills/nasal sprays before the season actually starts. This is a significant departure from the concept of only taking pills when you are symptomatic. However the literature indicates that patients do best is they begin medication before the season, roughly three weeks before.
If you have any specific questions, you can ask on the grossaninstitutefacebook.
Murray Grossan, M.D.