Seasonal allergies aren't fun for anyone. As the sun finally shows its face after a long winter, the last thing you want is to be sneezing or stuck inside. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to manage your symptoms and get back to living your active outdoor life in Montana. Learn more about dealing with warm weather allergies below.
Oftentimes, the best cure is prevention. Unfortunately, with allergies, that typically means staying inside to avoid the source of your reaction. Keep track – whether mentally, or better yet, in a note or journal – when you start to see your first allergic reactions of the spring. You'll also want to note the time of year when it ends. That way, you can have an idea of how long you'll need to hunker down to avoid irritants. While you're inside, make your environment a little cleaner with an air purifier, stripping out particles from the air that might cause a reaction.
It can be easier to manage symptoms or avoid them altogether if you know the problem's source. Speak with your primary care provider about getting an allergy test if you have been unable to sort out the root cause of your symptoms, or if you're considering allergy shots—more on that below.
When you've nailed down the source, or at least the dates of your reaction, you can become an allergen detective and research air quality and pollen spikes. The Montana Pollen Station at the University of Montana monitors pollen counts, and can give you a rough idea of what may be going on in Western Montana that week. The Pollen Library provides a breakdown of allergens in your area. And, of course, if your allergies are bothering you, it pays to speak with your healthcare provider for more resources specific to your case.
Not all allergy medicine is created equal, and what works for one set of symptoms, or one allergen, might not work for another. Here are the ingredients to look for in an OTC option:
You'll find many different types of allergy medications that include a decongestant to help clear your sinuses and let you breathe easy. They often include an antihistamine as well, but more on that later.
Common decongestant ingredients to look for are cetirizine and pseudoephedrine (Zyrtec-D 12 Hour), desloratadine and pseudoephedrine (Clarinex-D), fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D), and loratadine and pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D).
Antihistamines block histamine, which is a chemical that your immune system releases when you have an allergic reaction, and it can be responsible for some of your symptoms. Some antihistamines can make you drowsy, and you should avoid these when you need to drive or operate machinery. Common examples to look out for are diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine.
Other antihistamines are less likely to make you sleepy, though it's still a good idea to see how your body reacts first to be sure. These include cetirizine (Zyrtec, Zyrtec Allergy), desloratadine (Clarinex), fexofenadine (Allegra, Allegra Allergy), levocetirizine (Xyzal, Xyzal Allergy) and loratadine (Alavert, Claritin).
There are more alternatives to medications available if you need them. The allergy shot is one option. It helps you develop a healthy immune response by delivering a small amount of the specific allergen that affects you, helping your body build up a resistance to it over time. Your provider can give you input on medications to try, write a prescription and help you test other drug combinations, or help you explore all the options available.
To uncover all your allergy-fighting options, get in touch with your nearest CHP clinic and make an appointment. Qualified providers are ready to answer all your questions and help ease your symptoms so you can get back to enjoying the warm weather without complications.