TODAY’S BEST ALLERGY TREATMENTS
Knock your symptoms out before they drag you down.
Antihistamine pills are a starting point. “If your symptoms are mild and intermittent, then antihistamines work pretty well, particularly for sneezing, itching, and runny nose,” says Dr William Reisacher, director of allergy services at Weill Cornell Medicine. However, these meds tend to lose their effectiveness over time, so don’t use them consistently for longer than two months. When people stay on antihistamines too long, their symptoms can rebound.
If your symptoms linger or are severe, try nasal spray. Antihistamine sprays beat the pill version. Corticosteroid nasal sprays containing fluticasone curb inflammation. Or go double duty: “The most effective single med is a combination of azelastine (an antihistamine) and fluticasone (a topical steroid) in a nasal spray,” says Dr Harold Nelson, a professor of medicine at National Jewish Health in the US. It’s available by prescription only.
EYEDROPS If your eyes are unbearably itchy, consider antihistamine eyedrops. You can buy over- the- counter versions (which are applied twice daily), or your eye doctor can prescribe a once- a- day version. “Often I recommend that people start a week or two before the allergy exposure is expected, and continue throughout the allergy season until after the season ends,” says Dr Lorne Yudcovitch of the Pacific University College of Optometry.
If your allergies are bad, immunotherapy might help. An allergist does blood or skin- prick testing to determine your allergy triggers; then a formula that contains tiny doses of your allergens is placed under your tongue or injected. “Immunotherapy is a way of making you less allergic to the agent you’re sensitive to,” says Dr Eli Meltzer of the Allergy & Asthma Medical Group and Research Centre in San Diego. You’ll need regular treatments for a few years, but they could well be worth it.