I suffer from seasonal allergies. Do I need to take an allergy med everyday for relief?
Yes, for seasonal allergies symptoms, you should be taking your allergy medication on a daily basis for the most effective relief. The duration of action of most antihistamines (and nasal sprays) do not extend much past 24 hours and will lose effectiveness if not continuously dosed on a daily basis.
Fortunately, the most common and beneficial over the counter allergy medications only need to be dosed once daily.
The first class of medications we will look at are oral antihistamines. These medications include Allegra (fexofenadine), Claritin (loratidine), and Zyrtec (cetirizine). They are classified as second generation antihistamines, are dosed once daily and do not cause sedation/drowsiness. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine receptors in the body. Histamine is involved in a multitude of physiological functions and is heavily involved in our immune response. For seasonal allergies, our bodies release histamine as a response to certain allergens such as tree pollen. Blocking histamine helps relieve symptoms such as itching, sneezing, congestion, watery eyes and inflammation.
For continuous dosing, these second generation antihistamines are often a better choice than older, first generation antihistamines such as Benadyl & Chlor-Trimeton, which need to be dosed multiple times daily and cause sedation.
Aside from oral antihistamines, nasal steroids are a potential treatment and may be a good option for you. Nasal steroids are often considered a better option for treating a runny/stuffy nose and post nasal drip. Examples of nasal steroids include Flonase (fluticasone), Rhinocort Aqua (budesonide), Nasonex (mometasone) and Nasacort (triamcinolone). They work to decrease inflammation in your nasal passages and can stop the processes that contribute to the release of histamine.
If your symptoms are continuing on a daily basis during high pollen
seasons, the nasal steroids not only help relieve the symptoms of allergies, but also help to prevent histamine release
in the first place. Like oral antihistamines, it is usually necessary to dose nasal steroids daily for optimal relief.