Allergy Season in Full Swing
"Chip, we have a consultation." David, one of the cashiers in my pharmacy, alerted me that we had a customer with a question. I finished my call with a doctor and walked over to discover a woman dabbing her runny nose with a tissue. Her eyes were glistening with allergy-induced tears and when she spoke, her voice had that classic nasal tonality indicative of swollen, congested sinuses, "Allergy season must have started early this year — at least it did for me."
"I've had season tickets for fifty-nine years," I joked, and we shared a laugh. "What do you recommend for me?" she asked. "I've tried everything."
We often hear that comment, that the patient has "tried everything." To be safe, I inquire about any other symptoms such as fever, coughing, rashes, sore throat. Often, with allergy problems as this woman had, most of the other symptoms aren't present.
"When you blow your nose, is it clear?"
"Then there's probably no infection and we can work on those allergy symptoms. You said you'd tried several products, which ones?"
The four most popular oral antihistamines in our area are Claritin, Zyrtec, Benadryl, and Allegra [which recently became available OTC (over-the-counter)]. Most pharmacies now have their "house" brands — generic equivalents — available for all four products. It was good timing for Allegra to become available without a prescription. Predictions this year are for a more severe allergy season and, unfortunately for patients, a longer one (Drug Store News).
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, almost half of us suffer from some form of allergic rhinitis, hay fever or sinusitis. From 2000 to 2005 the cost of treatment went from approximately $6 billion to over $ 11 billion. No wonder you see big displays of OTC products in all the stores!Continued on the next page