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Allergies, Allergy Season and Your Health

Written by Ivan Sutton

I like to say there are two seasons.  Normal Life, and Allergy Season.  Yes, I and part of the 1 in 5 that have allergies.  So after a beautiful warm spring day outdoors, I found myself sniffling and having the usual hay fever symptoms.   I knew it was coming;  the start of a long, sometimes embarrassing allergy season.

On this day I had an appointment with a client that has cats.  This at anytime of the year can cause stress and me running for medication.  So I went to the pharmacy to pick up the best pills for allergies that I could find.

If you have ever stood in front of the allergy medication section of a pharmacy, you realize that there are many to choose from.  They all have names that make them sound effective.  But which allergy medication is the best especially in a situation with cats?!

Years ago, I used Sudafed which worked perfectly but I noticed recently that they changed the box and the pills don’t even look the same.  They also don’t seem to work as well as they did before.  So what to do?

You have heard it said that you should speak with your pharmacist if you have questions or are in doubt about what good OTC medication to use.  This is exactly what I did and I learned something very important.

There are some medications for allergies that will not only reduce the symptoms of itchy eyes, scratchy throat and runny nose, but also have a decongestant.  Some of these with the decongestant will also increase your heart rate.  This is important to know because by increasing your heart rate, depending on your daily activity, can put you at risk of stroke of heart attack.

Imagine that you get ready for work, pop two of your favorite allergy pills and head off to pick up your morning Caramel Macchiato with an extra shot of coffee with a lemon loaf.  Then to the gym for your morning workout.  This could place you at risk.

If you are aware that you have hypertension, you should stay away from allergy medication with a decongestant.  Decongestants contain phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine that raise heart rate and blood pressure.  They work by shrinking swollen membranes in the nose and according to the Summit Medical Group, do the same throughout the body causing increased blood pressure and even pulse rate.

Look for the “D”.  Some medications will spell out “Decongestant” on the package while other brands simply add the letter.   Examples of this are Alavert-D, Allegra-D, Zyrtec-D, and Claritin-D.

Now I would be remiss if I didn’t mention natural hay fever treatments.  Of course I suggest that you always speak with a medical professional before taking OTC drugs, or starting a natural treatment strategy for any ailment.

  1. Local Honey: Some say, and I have a personal friend that testifies that local bees make local honey from local pollen.  The same local pollen that makes your eyes water and throat scratchy.  If you take honey each day of the year, when allergy season starts, it will desensitize your body to local and other pollen.
  2. Ginger: Ginger is a natural antihistamine and natural anti inflammatory that helps reduce nasal swelling.  Ginger tea with local honey is a good combination.
  3. Vitamin C: Again, when it comes to natural antihistamines, Vitamin C is a great choice.  It is easily available in supplements and fruit.  Also present in most vitamin C rich fruit are bioflavinoids which have a powerful anti-allergy effect.
  4. I will just list a few others here: Carrots for carotenoids, Hot Peppers for Capsaicin, Chamomile Tea for flavonoids, Garlic for immune boosting properties


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Ivan Sutton

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