Springtime can cause respiratory havoc for some people due to environmental allergies. Sneezing, coughing, sinus pain and congestion, watery and irritated eyes, fatigue, and headaches are common symptoms of pollen allergies/hay fever.

About one out of five people in the United States are affected by pollen allergies this time of year. Tree pollens and later grass pollens become an issue, and as the weather gets warmer, many people also experience mold sensitivity.

Infection or allergies?
You may be wondering about a respiratory tract infection such as a cold or even COVID-19 as the cause of your symptoms. Generally, people with allergies will have mucus from the nose or throat, which is clear. Also, allergies are much more likely to cause itchy or watery eyes and sniffles that last longer than a week. Furthermore, respiratory tract infections can cause fever and tend to intensify in symptoms the first week while allergy symptoms are constant.

Delay the Drugs
Many people turn to over the counter medications such as antihistamines. Depending on the type of antihistamine and the person’s sensitivity, one may experience drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, dry eyes, dry nose, and fatigue. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine are more likely to cause fatigue or drowsiness as compared to these common antihistamines:

  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy)
  • Desloratadine (Clarinex)
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy)
  • Levocetirizine (Xyzal)
  • Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin)

The use of corticosteroid nasal sprays are commonly used in America. Examples include:

  • Budesonide (Rhinocort)
  • Fluticasone furoate (Flonase Sensimist, Veramyst)
  • Fluticasone propionate (Flonase Allergy Relief)
  • Mometasone (Nasonex)
  • Triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24 Hour)

Side effects of conventional nasal sprays such as Fluticasone may include:

  • Bloody nose
  • cough
  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • sore throat
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • tightness of the chest
  • troubled breathing
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

And many allergy sufferers experiencing sinus pain and pressure turn to oral decongestants such as:

  • Cetirizine and pseudoephedrine (Zyrtec-D)
  • Desloratadine and pseudoephedrine (Clarinex-D)
  • Fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D)
  • Loratadine and pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D)

Side effects of oral decongestants can include:

  • Nervousness
  • restlessness
  • trouble in sleeping

As well, taking too much of an oral decongestant can cause an irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, and breathing problems.

Ahhh…Natural Allergy Relief!
There are several over the counter natural products you can use to relieve your seasonal allergies. For my patients using allergy medications, I will often add one or more of these natural products to their treatment for better symptom relief and then have them taper of their medications.

Quercitin: acts as a natural antihistamine without the side effects. I usually have patients take 1000 mg to 3000 mg daily.

Nettle Leaf: has been shown in studies to relieve hayfever symptoms such as sneezing and itching. Take 300 mg to 600 mg daily.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC): this amino acid-like product works to thin mucus and relieves sinus congestion. Take 500 to 1000 mg twice daily on an empty stomach.

Homeopathic remedies are effective for the relief of hayfever symptoms. Here are some of the common ones used. One typically takes two pellets of a 30C potency twice daily for three days and then as needed if the remedy was helpful. Also, combination products containing several of these homeopathics are available. Use as directed.

Allium Cepa-for burning, watery eyes and a runny nose, as well as sneezing.

Arsenicum Album-for burning eyes and constant runny nose.

Euphrasia for red, burning, tearing eyes.

Sabadilla-repeated sneezing and runny nose.

Nasal saline irrigation is helpful for some people.

Fluticasone (Nasal Route) Side Effects – Mayo Clinic. 2020. [accessed 2020 Apr 18].

Pseudoephedrine (Oral Route) Side Effects – Mayo Clinic. 2020. [accessed 2020 Apr 18].