The spring allergy season is in full bloom and is caused by tree pollen. Pollen counts have been very high, and will remain high for the next few weeks. Symptoms include itchy eyes and eye swelling, itchy nose, nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, post-nasal drip, and itching sensation in the throat.
The first line of therapy is avoidance, which is difficult, as the pollen seems to be everywhere right now. Keep your home and car windows closed, and use air conditioning. When you arrive home at the end of the day, take a shower to rinse the pollen from your hair and skin. Rinsing the nose with a saline spray is also helpful.
The first line of medical therapy are antihistamines. Claritin and Allegra are non-sedating antihistamines that can be taken during the day. More potent antihistamines are Zyrtec and Chlortrimeton which are usually taken at bedtime to avoid daytime sedation.
Over the counter nasal steroid sprays, such as Flonase and Nasacort can help to reduce nasal congestion, but need to be used regularly to be effective.
Additional medications to treat allergy symptoms are available, but require a prescription. These include antihistamine eye drops, Singulair, and in severe cases, steroids such as prednisone.
Spring is a beautiful time of year, but difficult to appreciate when you are suffering with allergies. Take heart, the pollen counts are usually much lower by Memorial Day.