Runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, and sneezing—they’re a rite of Spring for many. After this unusually rainy winter more and more people who normally do not suffer from allergies are joining the ranks of the 35+ million Americans who are plagued by seasonal allergic rhinitis. Why does this happen? When plants pollinate, they send pollen into the air. Some people’s immune systems respond by producing antibodies called immunglobulin E(lgE) that then travel to cells that release chemicals called histamines that cause unwanted allergy symptoms in the longs, nose, sinuses and eyes.

Here are four ways to combat the symptoms of seasonal allergies:

1. Oral Antihistamines – These familiar drugs work by blocking the inflammation-causing histamine that your body produces in reaction to allergens. The first generation antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can cause drowsiness and works for 4 to 6 hours; the second generation antihistamines includes loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra) do not typically cause drowsiness and last approximately 24 hours. Second generation antihistamines are preferred in elderly patients where risks of falls may be an issue
2. Herbs and Supplements – Quercetin, a heart-healthy chemical called a flavonoid, found in tea, onions, grapes, and tomatoes, is a natural anti-inflammatory that can block histamine’s effects before they begin. One recommends taking one 500 mg tablet up to twice a day, starting a few weeks before allergy season.

3. Control Your Environment – You’ll fight allergies more effectively if you know what you’re allergic to. A skin or blood test from an allergist will narrow down your particular allergens, so you can avoid them. For example, staying indoors with the windows closed during your worst pollen days may help. Also remember that trees predominantly pollinate in the morning, so plan outdoor activities for later in the afternoon or in the early evening.

4. Nasal Saline Flushing – Rid your nose of both mucus and allergens by making a saline solution comprised of 8 ounces of warm distilled or sterilized water with 1/4 teaspoon each non- iodized salt and baking soda or if mixing is not your thing, buy a sterile nasal saline rinse at the drugstore. Lean over the sink with your head tilted to one side and use a squeeze bottle or Neti Pot to pour the solution into your top nostril, letting it flow out the bottom. Then switch sides.

Need to speak to someone about what the best course of treatment is for your family and you? Stop by Webster’s Community Pharmacy in Altadena to meet with the Pharmacist who will assist you in selecting the right treatment for you.

Webster’s Community Pharmacy is located at 2450 North Lake Avenue, Altadena. Call (626) 797-1163 or visit for more information.