May is one of our most beautiful months here in Brady and our surrounding Texas Hill Country communities. Everyone wants to be outdoors more, which is wonderful… until your nose gets all stuffed up or runny, your eyes start to itch, and pretty soon you’re coughing and sneezing and feeling awful!
With all the lovely rain we’ve had this spring, the grasses and plants have gone crazy. And with our spring breezes, pollen is in the air everywhere. While the prolonged green is more than welcome, it’s at the heart of what’s causing all that congestion, sneezing and watery eyes. May is Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month and we here at City Drug not only have answers to your questions, we have the right treatments for your symptoms.
We can’t actually “cure” allergies, but we can help manage them. Finding the right treatment starts with identifying your specific symptoms which could include:
- Runny nose
- Head stuffiness
- Watery eyes
- Sore throat
As you can see when you walk into any pharmacy, there are a lot of great over the counter medicines to help with just about anything you can think of. However, a large variety also makes it hard to choose what’s right for you or those in your care. Let’s start by addressing some of the most common symptoms people have in our area this time of year, and some good over the counter medicines that can be used for each.
If you have a runny/stopped up nose and head stuffiness: It may sound strange, but we treat both a runny nose and a stopped up nose the same. There are two categories of over the counters that are giving millions of people dependable relief: 1) antihistamines, and 2) nasal decongestants.
Antihistamines – There are several options but the newest antihistamines seem to be the most effective. Today’s popular brand names include: Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra. The active ingredients in each are different and can be used to identify their generic counterparts. The active ingredient in Claritin, for example is loratadine. In Zyrtec, it’s cetirizine and in Allegra it’s fexofenadine. As Albert covered previously, generic drugs are an inexpensive and effective option.
You only need to take one tablet daily of any of these big three, and they won’t cause drowsiness nor keep you awake. Any one should get the job done. If one doesn’t do it for you, try another… but don’t mix them. The only drawback to these is that you have to be patient because they don’t start working immediately. It takes a few hours before you start seeing their benefit.
Nasal Decongestants – Although a variety of products offer nasal relief, there are two especially good name brands, both of which carry the name of Sudafed. One version of Sudafed has pseudoephedrine as the active ingredient which you can only get from a pharmacy. Only adults can purchase it, and you will not be able to do so without showing your driver’s license.
Pseudoephedrine works well at opening your nose up and drying everything out fairly rapidly, but the downside is that it raises one’s blood pressure and keeps you awake. So if you’re a heart patient or have risk factors for heart disease, this is not the solution to your allergies. And you should not take it 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
The second Sudafed has phenylephrine as the active ingredient. The advantage of phenylephrine is that it does not keep you awake like the pseudoephedrine does and you do not have to show your driver’s license. Both are great decongestants and work within the first 30 minutes after taking them. You will, however, need to take 1 tablet every 4 to 6 hours as needed.
If you have a cough: Again there are two good popular over the counters that should help:
Antihistamine – Take it the same as you would for a runny nose mentioned above.
Chest decongestant -Mucinex or Robitussin are great examples of popular name brand chest decongestant products, with or without the cough suppressant. If you prefer a tablet, grab the Mucinex. If you prefer a syrup (which children usually prefer) grab Robitussin. There are two forms of both DM and regular.
Mucinex DM or Robitussin DM are great for relieving a cough that is non-productive, which is when you’re coughing and coughing and nothing is coming up. DM means it includes a cough suppressant. They’ll stop the cough, and in most cases allow you to get some of the sleep that the cough has robbed you of the past few nights.
If you’re coughing and coughing up mucus, the regular Mucinex or Robitussin (NOT the DM) would be the best. The active ingredient in Mucinex is guaifenesin and to make these products work, you have to take them with at least 8 to 16 ounces of wat
When your eyes first start to itch, do all you can to resist the temptation to rub them, because what you’re then doing, is rubbing the pollen in. Either rinse your eyes in clean, clear water and pat dry, or use the simple replacement for tears, usually labeled artificial tears such as the popular Tears II to cleanse them. Those drops create a gentle cleansing effect, much like real tears. If your eyes are really hurting, you might need an antihistamine in the form of eye drops, as in the popular products Naphcon A or Zidator. Apply just one drop to the center of your lower lid.. It might sting a little at first, but the relief is immediate.
Be Aware: If you have any inkling that there might be something more severe than allergies going on, such as fever, aches, chills, or difficulty breathing, see your Doctor! You might need something more powerful than over the counter remedies. If you attend to those symptoms early enough, you and your doctor can nip the problem before it becomes something serious.
Whatever you might be allergic to, whether it be bees, cats, cedar, pollen, or grasses, there’s a solution here at City Drug that will let you enjoy the great outdoors more. Next time you’re out shopping and saying to someone who asks ‘how are you doing?’ and your answer is… ‘allergies’ (sniffle, sniffle), make your next stop City Drug. Over by Lowe’s. Just down the road from the hospital. We’ll help get you back to feeling better.