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If you’re an allergy sufferer, the excitement of those first warm, spring-like days are tempered by constant sneezing, a runny nose that won’t stop, and annoyingly itchy eyes. You need relief, and you need it fast.
With "pollmageddon" hitting some areas of the country, we tapped top allergy docs and asked them what they recommend to patients.
Allergy relief can be a puzzle that you need help solving. While we've gathered some top-notch solutions, if symptoms can’t be controlled, it’s time to see a doctor. They can help identify your specific allergens and triggers to better stifle symptoms.
Now, onto the good stuff. Here’s what to try to start feeling better soon:
Best over-the-counter antihistamine for mild symptoms
Zyrtec Allergy Relief, $27, Walmart
If you’re saddled with occasional sneezing, itching, and a mild runny nose, try an oral antihistamine, like cetirizine (Zyrtec), suggested Stacey Galowitz, DO, at ENT & Allergy Associates in Somerset, New Jersey. “These medications block histamine, a chemical released from your cells when your body is reacting to pollen, and causes inflammation,” she said. She recommended taking a tablet once daily, as needed, for symptoms.
Another option? Fexofenadine; brand name Allegra.
Best over-the-counter antihistamine for stronger symptoms
Xyzal Allergy 24 Hour, $13 (originally $20), Amazon
The benefit to Xyzal is that, like Zyrtec and Allegra, it’s also non-sedating and lasts 24 hours. “Most allergists would say that the most potent of them is levocetirizine (Xyzal),” said CareMount Medical allergist and immunologist, Dr. David J. Resnick.
Best medicine for sinus congestion and pressure
Flonase Sensimist, $21, Amazon
If you’re dealing with itchiness and sneezing in addition to nasal congestion and sinus pressure and a nose that runs like a faucet, Dr. Derrick R. Ward of Kansas City Allergy & Asthma Associates recommends trying a nasal steroid spray. They can take a bit of time to work, so if you haven’t already started them, do so now. “It’s best to start the nasal sprays one to two weeks prior to the onset of the season, but it’s also okay to start when symptoms begin,” he said. It’s recommended you use these throughout the season — not intermittently. Dr. Ward preferred Sensimist to the original formula, as it’s less likely to cause side effects, he says.
Best eyedrops for watery eyes
Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops, $13, Walmart
If you have itchy, watery or irritated eyes, it may be time to bring in an antihistamine eye drop, said Ward. Zaditor (ketotifen fumarate) relieves eye symptoms for 12 hours.
Best Sinus Rinse
NeliMed Sinus Rinse, $6, Amazon
Get that pollen out of your nose. “Rinsing your nasal passages with saline solution is a quick, inexpensive, and effective way to relieve nasal congestion because it flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose,” said Galowitz, who recommended the NeilMed brand.
Pro tip: Consider washing out your nasal passages with a saline rinse before using a steroid nasal spray because some people find that doing so is helpful, according to Resnick.
Best saline spray for adults
Arm & Hammer Simply Saline Nasal Spray Mist, $7, Amazon
If you prefer to spray rather than flush, you have options. “Saline nasal sprays are helpful in clearing out the nose and decreasing inflammation,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network. Reviewers love this fine mist spray and commented that it feels comfortable in your sinuses.
Best saline spray for kids
Little Remedies Saline Spray/Drops, $4, Walmart
For the little ones, this is a must-have to help them breathe easy. The multi-use applicator comes in handy (you can use it as a spray or hold it down for drops) and comes in handy for allergies and for stuffed noses during a cold.
Best bed protector against dust mites
SafeRest Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protector, $27 (originally $70), Amazon
Suffering from indoor allergies can worsen outdoor allergies. “Battling multiple allergens at once means you have a higher load of exposure to allergens and likely more severe symptoms,” said Parikh.
If you’re allergic to dust mites, guarding against them is more important than ever right now. “The most effective measure for dust mites are dust mite-specific allergy covers that encase the mattress and box spring. These create a barrier between you and the dust mites while you sleep,” she said. This brand has more than 34,000 positive reviews on Amazon — it not only protects against dust mites, but it's waterproof, too.
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