Treating Sinus Allergies

Let’s talk allergies. Approximately 36 million people in this country suffer Treating Sinus Allergies

Let’s talk allergies. Approximately 36 million people in this country suffer from sinus allergies called allergic rhinitis. Whether it is seasonal or perennial, these conditions can cause a serious impact on a person’s quality of life. Seasonal allergies (commonly called hay fever) occur only during certain times of the year. Triggers to seasonal allergies include grasses, pollens, weeds and mold spores. Perennial (or year-round) allergy triggers, often found indoors, include mold and fungal spores, animal dander, dust mites and cigarette smoke.

Normally, the immune system defends the body from foreign substances. However, for some people, the immune system overreacts to these substances, causing the release of chemicals called histamine, leukotrienes and prostaglandins, which cause swelling to surrounding tissue. This causes irritation and harm to the tissue, and it can be very unpleasant. These reactions range from mild to severe.

Most allergic reactions are mild, consisting of repetitive sneezing episodes, watery and itchy eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose, headache and fatigue. Rashes are common and often itch. Many people who have these allergies may also suffer with asthma, caused by the same allergens. Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and the circumstances under which they occur – petting a cat or during a certain season.

Preventing allergic rhinitis is certainly easier said then done. Avoidance of the problem is recommended, for example staying away from the neighbor’s cat. Those who are allergic to dust mites find that using high-efficiency air filters and removing things that collect dust such as magazines and books are helpful actions to take. Vacuuming frequently is also recommended. Unfortunately, not all allergens can be avoided and sometimes treatment is necessary.

Treating allergic rhinitis usually starts with antihistamines, which are available over-the-counter and by prescription. It might also include cromolyn, an over-the-counter nasal spray and prescription-only eye drop and inhaler. It works to prevent the allergic reaction from occurring at all. There are other treatments available, such as corticosteroids. They are available by prescription as nasal sprays and work locally on the inside of the nose to decrease swelling.

Occasionally, oral decongestants may be used to alleviate nasal stuffiness; however, ask your doctor prior to use, as these products may increase blood pressure and are not safe for everyone. I also recommend checking with your doctor before using nasal decongestant sprays or drops. When used for more than a few days in a row, these products actually may worsen your congestion and you may mistake it for a worsening of the allergy.

For those itchy eyes, there are also treatments options available, both prescription and non-prescription. Antihistamines and decongestants for the eyes are available over-the-counter. Newer medications targeting the prevention of symptoms are available with a prescription.

Finally, when shopping for medications to treat allergic rhinitis I would recommend you ask your pharmacist for advice. They can assess the allergy, your medical history and medication profile to screen for drug interactions or contraindications. Then they can make recommendations that will hopefully relieve some of the suffering caused by allergic rhinitis.

Ted Kessler, Pharm.D. is the Director of Pharmacy Services for the Vista Community Clinic. For more information or to make an appointment please call (844) 308-5003 or visit www.vistacommunityclinic.org.

from sinus allergies called allergic rhinitis. Whether it is seasonal or perennial, these conditions can cause a serious impact on a person’s quality of life. Seasonal allergies (commonly called hay fever) occur only during certain times of the year. Triggers to seasonal allergies include grasses, pollens, weeds and mold spores. Perennial (or year-round) allergy triggers, often found indoors, include mold and fungal spores, animal dander, dust mites and cigarette smoke.

Normally, the immune system defends the body from foreign substances. However, for some people, the immune system overreacts to these substances, causing the release of chemicals called histamine, leukotrienes and prostaglandins, which cause swelling to surrounding tissue. This causes irritation and harm to the tissue, and it can be very unpleasant. These reactions range from mild to severe.

Most allergic reactions are mild, consisting of repetitive sneezing episodes, watery and itchy eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose, headache and fatigue. Rashes are common and often itch. Many people who have these allergies may also suffer with asthma, caused by the same allergens. Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and the circumstances under which they occur – petting a cat or during a certain season.

Preventing allergic rhinitis is certainly easier said then done. Avoidance of the problem is recommended, for example staying away from the neighbor’s cat. Those who are allergic to dust mites find that using high-efficiency air filters and removing things that collect dust such as magazines and books are helpful actions to take. Vacuuming frequently is also recommended. Unfortunately, not all allergens can be avoided and sometimes treatment is necessary.

Treating allergic rhinitis usually starts with antihistamines, which are available over-the-counter and by prescription. It might also include cromolyn, an over-the-counter nasal spray and prescription-only eye drop and inhaler. It works to prevent the allergic reaction from occurring at all. There are other treatments available, such as corticosteroids. They are available by prescription as nasal sprays and work locally on the inside of the nose to decrease swelling.

Occasionally, oral decongestants may be used to alleviate nasal stuffiness; however, ask your doctor prior to use, as these products may increase blood pressure and are not safe for everyone. I also recommend checking with your doctor before using nasal decongestant sprays or drops. When used for more than a few days in a row, these products actually may worsen your congestion and you may mistake it for a worsening of the allergy.

For those itchy eyes, there are also treatments options available, both prescription and non-prescription. Antihistamines and decongestants for the eyes are available over-the-counter. Newer medications targeting the prevention of symptoms are available with a prescription.

Finally, when shopping for medications to treat allergic rhinitis I would recommend you ask your pharmacist for advice. They can assess the allergy, your medical history and medication profile to screen for drug interactions or contraindications. Then they can make recommendations that will hopefully relieve some of the suffering caused by allergic rhinitis.

Ted Kessler, Pharm.D. is the Director of Pharmacy Services for the Vista Community Clinic. For more information or to make an appointment please call (844) 308-5003,