One of the most often asked questions here at The Drug Shop is: What do I take for my allergies? In our ever-changing Texas weather, there is always something in the air that is causing allergy problems for everyone. The two biggest allergy seasons are cedar, which typically last from December to February, and is lovingly referred to as Cedar Fever and oak, which is apparent when you see yellow everywhere outside during the spring.
What most people don’t realize is that the more often you are exposed to an allergen, such as cedar pollen, the more likely you are to not only have a reaction to it, but a stronger reaction every time you are exposed. So, unfortunately, year after year our allergies get worse and worse! How irritating!
What can we do about it? The first thing we think of for allergies is anti-histamines. The most popular anti-histamine is Benadryl ™(diphenhydramine). Benadryl™ is still the most effective for allergies but it also causes the most drowsiness. In general, the more drowsy the anti-histamine makes you feel, the better it works.
Since most of us cannot be drowsy all the time, we look toward the non-drowsy anti-histamines. These include Zyrtec™(cetirizine), Claratin™(loratadine), and Allergra™(fexofinadine). My anti-histamine of choice is…..Zyrtec™! Since it can cause some drowsiness in some people, I recommend to take is at night. It seems to be the most effective for the vast majority of my patients (and myself!). I recommend that is be taken every night at bedtime during your prime allergy season, but some people may need to take it all year long. That being said, sometimes you may find that it “stops working”. If this is the case, take an “anti-histamine holiday”, by either stopping the medication for a while, or switching to a different anti-histamine for a while.
So now you say, “Well, that is all well and good, but I am STILL suffering from these allergies!” And to that I say, let’s look at the new nasal steroid sprays that are now over the counter. There are two, which I find equally effective but slightly different. Nasacort™ is scent free and Flonase™ is scented, so it is up to you which you would prefer. Physicians always seemed to favor the Flonase™ when it was still prescription, so many of us have already tried it and know if it is effective. My biggest comment on the use of these sprays is to use them EVERY DAY and not just as needed; it is just more effective that way.
And even after all this, you say “What do I do now? I am STILL suffering!” Wow! Now don’t feel bad, it is very common for our conventional therapies to not work on allergies. Now let’s look at some non-traditional, non-conventional ways to treat them. I am only going to list the ones that I KNOW work from patient testimonials. Here they are:
1. Homeopathic spray – we recommend Celletech™ Texas Allergy Relief, it covers Cedar, Oak, Mold, and Ragweed – We have so many patients come back to say it works! We have even had visitors to our area purposefully come back to get some!
2. Essential Oils – Now the only one I recommend in this category is CedarX®. It covers only cedar allergy but we have many, many patients say it helps relieve allergy symptoms during the worst time of the season.
3. Stinging Nettle – This is a plant based product that has been shown to help with allergies. We have a combination product that contains both nettles and quercetin. Several patients have told me it helps with their allergies.
4. Quercetin – This is a bio-flavonoid that is usually found in a variety of foods, but used as a supplement is quite effective for allergies. I like to use it in combination with other natural products in a couple of different lines of nutraceuticals. The product that contains quercetin + nettles is especially helpful.
5. Bromelain – Mostly used for sinus congestion, this is useful when you’re at a point where the drainage is just out of control. It works really well in combination with quercetin.
6. Tree Antigens – We have all heard of the dreaded allergy shots. The shot that they give you are actual antigens to help train your body to properly respond to the allergy when you are exposed to it. Now-a-days, you can get the antigens in a sub-lingual liquid that is much less hassle and painful than the old shot! The product we use mostly is for the trees; it includes hemlock, birch, cedar, cottonwood, cypress, pine, oak and plenty more. There are many more types that are available too, not just for trees. I recommend to start using these 2 weeks to 1 month before allergy season starts and continue use until the season is done. I have a patient who suffered years and years with severe allergy to cedar. We tried this on him, and he went a FULL cedar season with NO symptoms! He is just trilled with the results!
While this is not an all inclusive list of remedies for our torturous allergies here in Central Texas. This is what I have found works best for everyone. Enjoy the outdoors allergy free all year long!
Wishing you well…Gail