Getting to the Root of your Allergy Issues
With spring in the air, allergy season is just around the corner. If you’re like one of the millions of Americans who suffer from symptoms of runny nose, post-nasal drip and inflamed nasal passages during the spring, you might be wondering what allergy treatment is out there. Today, we’re going to outline what nasal allergies are, symptoms to look out for and the different types of nasal sprays you can use to get some allergy relief!
What Are Nasal Allergies?
Nasal allergies, also called allergic rhinitis, are characterized by inflammation of the nose, specifically the nasal passages. Allergic rhinitis is typically caused by inhaling allergens from trees, pollen, dust mites, molds, grasses, weeds, animal dander and other allergic substances. These types of allergies can be seasonal or chronic/perennial, depending on what you are allergic to and how often you are exposed to them in your daily life.
What Are the Symptoms of Nasal Allergies?
Allergic rhinitis is caused by the release of histamine, a chemical that causes a lot of the symptoms experienced by those with this condition. Common symptoms of nasal rhinitis include:
- Thick, pale yellow mucus.
- Runny nose–mucus that drips from the nose.
- Post nasal drip–excess mucus that drains down the back of the throat. Some substances in this mucus can cause throat irritation, coughing and pain.
- Itchy eyes and nose.
- Excessive sneezing.
- Congestion–excessive mucus in the nose, making it difficult to breathe.
As you can imagine, these symptoms are not the most pleasant to deal with, especially if they are chronic or last all through allergy season. Luckily, some great nasal sprays can help alleviate symptoms so you can experience allergy relief.
What’s the Difference Between Allergic Rhinitis and the Common Cold
Typically, colds will last about one to two weeks, and they tend to have less itchiness associated with them. Seasonal allergies show up at the same time every year and can last about as long as the allergens are present in the air. If you have perennial allergies to things such as dust mites, mold or pet dander, then they can be chronic, but again, you will typically experience a lot of eye and nose itchiness due to the release of histamine common in allergic reactions.
What are Nasal Sprays and How Do They Work?
If you’re looking for relief from allergic rhinitis but want to avoid pills, there are a variety of nasal sprays that you can try out.
1. Steroid Nasal Sprays
One of the first nasal sprays recommended for allergy relief is steroid sprays. While it can take about a week for symptoms to improve, they are generally very effective. They tend to reduce the following symptoms very well:
- Drippy, runny nose.
- Itchy nose and eyes.
There can be some side effects with these sprays which include cough, nosebleeds, sore throat and headaches. Monitor your symptoms and side effects and discuss with your doctor if another option might be a better choice depending on your results.
2. Cromolyn Sodium Nasal Sprays (NasalCrom)
This nasal spray can be incredibly fast-acting, with some people experiencing relief within 30 minutes of use. It works by stopping the production of histamine, which can stop runny nose, congestion and sneezing. Doctors recommend starting it one or two weeks before the start of allergy season and then continuing to use it about once a day throughout peak season. While it can be effective, it’s not quite as effective as steroid nasal sprays. However, the side effects can be more modest and include burning of the nasal passages or sneezing.
3. Decongestant Nasal Sprays
These types of nasal sprays are not recommended for use for longer than three days at a time since they can cause more congestion if they are used for too long. They work by shrinking the swollen tissues and blood vessels in the nose that cause congestion. Since they don’t reduce the amount of histamine they don’t tend to help with the itchiness or runny nose often experienced with allergies.
4. Antihistamine Nasal Sprays
These types of nasal sprays are generally prescribed by a doctor, and since they reduce the production of histamine, they are very effective at eliminating symptoms such as:
- Runny nose.
- Itchiness of the eyes and nose.
They are less effective at eliminating a runny nose but still provide some relief. Antihistamine nasal sprays tend to cause less drowsiness than pills, but can still cause sleepiness in some people, so it’s a good idea to try them out for the first time when you are at home and don’t have to drive or do other activities until you see how they impact you.
5. Ipratropium Nasal Sprays (Atrovent Nasal)
This prescription spray works by stopping mucus production, which can help if a runny nose is your main concern. Since it doesn’t stop the production of histamine, it’s not super effective at soothing sneezing or congestion. It also has stronger side effects such as nosebleeds, nasal passage irritation, headaches and/or sore throat.
Hopefully, this knowledge of allergic rhinitis and the different types of nasal spray treatments available empowers you to take control of your health this season so you can breathe free and clear!
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