Fall allergy season is beginning. If you are prone to autumnal allergies, please do not wait until you are sniffling and sneezing to start an antihistamine! The time to begin is now so that the antihistamine can be in the system when it is needed. Remember histamine is released by the body when it perceives a threat (like pollen or mold). Histamine attaches to receptors on cells and a series of events is triggered, and the result is the swollen nasal membranes, itchy eyes, and mucous production associated with an allergic event. Antihistamines attach to these same receptors on the cells forming a protective barrier to prevent histamine from triggering the allergic response. If the antihistamine is not in the body before pollen or mold hits, then the antihistamine has to work double time to find cell receptors that have not been impacted. An antihistamine is much more effective if it is in the body before pollen comes along.
Also, for those of you who have to use prescription inhalers: there are usually two kinds of inhalers. One is a rescue inhaler which is used to provide immediate relief, and it usually contains some form of albuterol. The other type of inhaler is a steroid inhaler. These stabilize membranes in the body and decrease swelling of membranes. This inhaler can take up to three weeks to work, so it must be used before there is an immediate need. Make sure that you discuss with your doctor or pharmacist the type of inhaler that you have so that it can be used appropriately.
Non-prescription nasal steroid sprays are also very useful as these can decrease swelling of the nasal passages. Because of the minute amount of steroid that is absorbed into the body from nasal sprays or oral inhalers, these may both be used at the same time without harm.
Healthy living (and limited sneezing) with John Hollis Pharmacy by Cindy Franklin, staff pharmacist.