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Relief for seasonal allergies

According to the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic, the pollen count for today (June 22, 2010) is 5. This is in the low range. The pollen count is measured in pollen particles per cubic meter of air.

In Atlanta, we are no strangers to seasonal allergies. As the pollen count rises, allergy sufferers flood the pharmacy counters in search of relief. There are several options available for relieving allergy symptoms over-the-counter.

Antihistamines

When the body is exposed to an allergen, like pollen, the immune system sends out mast cells that release histamines. The histamines attach to receptors in the blood vessels that cause the vessels to enlarge. The histamines also attach to other receptors in the body that cause itching, swelling, and changes in secretions. Antihistamines work to block the histamine receptors and therefore stop the reactions. One of the main side effects of antihistamines is drowsiness, but some of the newer antihistamine medications are less sedating.

Some of the medications available over-the-counter are: Claritin, Benadryl, and Zyrtec.

Decongestants

When the body is in an allergic reaction, the tissues in the nose can swell and produce fluids and mucus. Decongestants work to reduce the swelling and therefore the excess production of fluids and mucus. Decongestants are not recommended for people with high blood pressure because they can raise blood pressure and increase heart rate.

Most decongestants are available from the pharmacist behind the counter but do not require a prescription. Sudafed is the most well known decongestant available.

There are some combination products available behind the pharmacy counter; these contain both an antihistamine and a decongestant. Two of the products available are; Zyrtec-D and Claritin-D.

If you have allergy symptoms, contact your doctor or talk with your local pharmacist about the allergy medications that may be right for you.

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