Get relief from spring allergies

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After a long Canadian winter, there is no better sight than budding trees, fresh green grass and blooming flowers.  But the late spring has left us with one of the worst allergy seasons in recent memory, as all of the pollens that trigger allergies are being released at the same time.

Surveys have shown that over eight million Canadians suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms.  The sneezing, runny nose and congestion lead many to think they’ve caught a common cold – but when the symptoms last much longer than three or four says, it could be allergies instead.

But with so many allergy products available for consumers to choose from, it can be hard to know which is the right one – which is where you local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist comes in.

“There is a lot of confusion about the different types of allergy products available,” says Victor Wong, a pharmacist and owner of several Shoppers Drug Mart store in Toronto. “In most cases, people turn to oral antihistamine tablets, which can be taken once a day and provide long-lasting relief, with few side effects – but there are many other options too.”

Depending on your symptoms and the specific triggers that cause your seasonal allergies, other over-the-counter medications could be recommended:

Sneezing, itchy, runny nose and eyes: Newer, non-drowsy antihistamines like Claritin, Reactine, Allegra 24 Hour or Life Brand Allergy Formula.  Classic antihistamines like Benadryl might also work, but they cause drowsiness and are best taken at night.

Congestion, sneezing, itchy, runny nose and eyes: Allergy and sinus medication, which are oral antihistamines with a decongestant.  Look for Benadryl Total Allergy, Benadryl Allergy Sinus Headache and Reactine Allergy and Sinus.  However, if you have conditions like high blood pressure, glaucoma or diabetes, check with your pharmacist first.

Runny nose:  Nasal irrigations that flush pollens from the nasal passage, like HydraSense, SinuCleanse, Sinus Rinse and Simply Saline Sinus Wash.  Decongestant nose spray could also work, like Dristan or Otrivin, but should only be used for three to five days in a row.

Itchy and burning eyes:  Eye drops like Opticrom can be used preventatively or eye drops with decongestant like Visine Allergy and Clear Eyes Allergy can be used for a few days – but if you have existing eye conditions, check with your pharmacist first.

If you’re unsure which medication to use, it’s always best to check with your pharmacist.  And if you have tried these over-the-counter medications but still can’t get relief, prescription medications might help.  In fact, in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI, patients can now get a prescription for seasonal allergy medication right from your local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist, following a short med  ical assessment.

Don’t let seasonal allergies stop you from enjoying everything spring has to offer – because relief is just around the corner.

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