by Sean M. Crosetti, MBA, PharmD, Crosetti Health & Wellness
With March seeming to come in like a lamb, most likely seasonal allergy symptoms will flair up sooner than later. There are several things that can be done to help mediate these symptoms, from antihistamines, prescriptions, barriers, supplements, to shots. Which ones to use, or combine, depends upon what the trigger is and the severity of your body’s response.
Barriers – The best barrier is being inside without open windows, but as 2020 showed us, we need to be outside at times. One of the few benefits of COVID is the current requirement to wear a mask outside. This not only will prevent a person from spreading the COVID virus, the mask will also filter out most of the triggers floating around in the air (pollen, dander, dust, etc.) so once you venture outside make sure to mask up as well. It is a good idea to wash your reusable masks at least once a week to make sure the filtering mechanism is fully functional.
Something else that is helpful when you are inside is the filter on your HVAC system and how clogged full of stuff it is. This “mask” for your house needs to be replaced every three months; so, if you do not recall changing it when your family’s holiday celebration was happening, then it is time to replace it.
The basic concept of the rest of the treatments is to reduce the natural inflammatory process once the triggers attempt to enter the body.
Supplements – These items have a few studies that show they do provide some benefit to the stopping of allergy symptoms:
Stinging Nettle – There are a few studies that show that the above ground parts of this plant can provide some antihistamine response in the body but does not improve response when given with antihistamines (do not use while pregnant)
Quercetin – There are also a few studies that show that this compound in red wine, yellow onions, black tea, black currant juice, and apple juice can boost the therapeutic effect of asthma medications when taken concurrently
Bromelain – The studies that have been published show there is some positive effect from taking this compound, which is found in pineapple, alone to reduce the swelling of the nasal passages, the studies in combination with medications are inconclusive.
Antihistamines – These Over the Counter (OTC) items work by reducing the effect of the body’s response to the triggers. When triggers enter the body by some means (mouth, nose, eyes, throat, skin) the body’s response is to release a hormone called histamine.
This compound drives several responses throughout the body (swelling of the throat, nasal passages, tongue, skin, and eyes, watering of eyes and nose, increase mucus production, increase stomach acid production, itching in areas of contact, etc.). All of these are forms of self-defense the body has used effectively to stop the further invasion into the body and are necessary. The issue lies in the severity, or duration, of the response.
Antihistamines work by blocking the histamines from binding to the receptors on the cells that trigger the response. Once blocked, the cells cannot release the histamine thereby reducing the severity and duration of the response to a level where that person feels they can still function in society.
Prescriptions – If the OTC items do not help you keep your symptoms at a reasonable level, a prescriber can authorize several different options from tablets/capsules, inhalers (puffers), to solutions for a nebulizer. These items either stop the body’s ability to respond to the triggers or decrease the effect of the triggers on the body.
Shots – This type of therapy requires a consultation with an allergist who may run reaction tests (small amount of the trigger injected under the skin of your back) of the most common allergens in your area and once true triggers are identified, a very diluted amount is injected into your system and gradually increased until your body does not adversely react to the exposure.
If you decide to try one of these supplements, OTC items, or prescriptions, please discuss with your care provider or pharmacist to make sure there are no interactions with your complete current regimen (prescribed, OTC, and supplements).
Sean M Crosetti, MBA, PharmD, is Pharmacist in Charge and Owner of Crosetti Health & Wellness in Grain Valley. Crosetti Health & Wellness is located at 510 N. Main in Grain Valley. www.crosettis.com