SECOND QUARTER 2001, VOLUME 15, NO 2

Ease spring fever with allergy drugs. But which ones?

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Ease spring fever with allergy drugs. But which ones?

Spring is just around the corner. For many of us that means sneezing, itching, hives, welts, wheezing, and a runny nose collectively known as hay fever will also be coming with the warmer weather. Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, affects 10 to 30 percent of Americans. More than half of those affected turn to over-the-counter medications instead of a doctor’s prescription to control the symptoms. Are you taking the right medicine for your allergy? Only your physician can confirm your diagnosis and optimal treatment plan.

Spring is traditionally the season when allergies abound; pollen is released from trees, weeds, and grasses. Your body reacts to the pollen as a foreign substance (antigen). It fights the invaders by producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the intestines and lungs. This IgE reacts to foreign substances and triggers immune cells to release a number of chemicals, one of which is histamine. Histamine produces the symptoms you know so well: itchy, watery eyes, nasal drainage, etc. Drugs that treat the symptoms of histamine are called antihistamines.

Types of over-the-counter allergy drugs
The following information should be supplemental to what your physician will provide and recommend.

Decongestant: Re-establishes drainage of the nasal passages will help symptoms such as congestion, swelling, excess secretions, and discomfort in the sinus areas.

Nasal Spray: Nasalcrom (cromolyn sodium) prevents the production of histamine. It is taken up to six times a day with symptoms improving after four weeks.

Antihistamine: These medications relieve symptoms, but they also dry secretions in the mouth and lungs and can cause drowsiness. The active ingredient diphenhydramine is most likely to cause drowsiness and chlorpheniramine is the least. There are various combinations of antihistamines, decongestants, cold, and pain medications.

The following is a small sampling, with the active ingredient listed in parenthesis:
Antihistamines and no other medications: Antihist-1 (clemastine fumarate), Benedryl Allergy (diphenhydramine), Chlor-Trimeton Allergy (chlorpheniramine)
Antihistamines and Decongestants: Actifed Cold and Allergy (triprolidine), Allergist-D, Benadryl Allergy Congestion (diphenhy-dramine), Chlor-Trimeton Allergy 7 Decongestant chlorpheniramine), Drixoral Cold & Allergy (dexbrompeniramine), Sudafed Cold and Allergy (chlorpheniramine) Antihistamine, Decongestants, and Pain Medication (acetami-nophen): Actifed Cold and Sinus (chlorpheniramine), Benadryl Allergy Sinus & Headache (diphenhydramine), Drixoral Allergy & Sinus (dexbrompheniramine), Sinutab Sinus Allergy (chlorpheniramine), Tylenol Allergy Sinus (chlorpheniramine), tylenol Allergy Sinus Night Time (diphenhydramine).

Antihistamine & Pain Medication (acetaminophen): Tylenol Severe Allergy (diphenhydramine) Your physician can determine what antihistamine or combination of antihistamine, decongestant, and pain medication is right for your condition. Your physician will cater your treatment plan based on your medical history, current condition, and symptoms.