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Baffled by all the over-the-counter products available to treat indoor or outdoor allergies (also called allergic rhinitis)? Here is some information to help you choose the right product for your needs.
|Warning! The products mentioned in this article are not designed to treat serious allergies like food allergies.|
|Saline Solutions||How they work
They flush out your nasal passages and sinuses, to reduce the amount of symptom-causing allergens, for example, after an outdoor activity during pollen allergy season. They help relieve nasal congestion.
Available in various forms, including drops, sprays, and nasal irrigation products, according to personal preference.
Nasal irrigation products, which send saltwater from one nostril to the other through the sinuses, are considered more effective than sprays for treating congestion. Nasal irrigation products are not as complicated to use as they may sound. Your pharmacist can explain how to use them.
|Antihistamines||How they work
Antihistamines work by blocking histamine, one of the substances released by the body that cause typical allergy symptoms.
Antihistamines are available in tablets, syrups and eyedrops. Your pharmacist can pick the best one for you.
There are two (2) generations of antihistamines:
Both first and second-generation products provide similar efficacy. Each antihistamine has different properties to combat specific symptoms.
|Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays||How they work
They act in different ways, notably by reducing inflammation and relieving congestion. While they start to take effect within a few hours, it can take several days before they become fully effective.
Make sure you carefully follow the instructions for using sprays, so you maximize their efficacy while minimizing the risk of side effects. Your pharmacist can show you how.
In Canada, certain corticosteroid nasal sprays are sold over or behind the counter, while others require a prescription. In some provinces, pharmacists can prescribe these products in specific circumstances. Ask your pharmacy staff.
|Decongestants||How they work
Decongestant nasal sprays provide temporary relief of nasal congestion.
Decongestants are also available in tablet form, most often in all-in-one allergy products and in certain “cold and sinus”–type products. Oral formulas are not recommended for long-time use, as they can cause some side effects over time.
It is important not to use it more often or for longer than recommended, to avoid increasing the risk of side effects such as rebound congestion (congestion caused by the overuse of the decongestant nasal spray).
If you have high blood pressure, decongestants are not your best option as they may increase your blood pressure. Use saline formulas instead.
Here are a few tips to help you choose the right product for your needs:
If you have a chronic disease, consult your pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter allergy medication. Some products may not be right for your condition. Don’t wait to treat your allergies, as they can seriously hamper your daily activities and your sleep. If you need help choosing the right product for your needs, ask your pharmacist.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.