Lush, green and irritating

Amanda Tobias, PharmD, helps you conquer your spring allergies

flower field

Oregon is widely celebrated for its verdant beauty. But thanks to our green lawns, our lush tree cover and our thriving grass-seed industry, the Willamette Valley often has high pollen counts — not exactly a cause for celebration if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Fortunately, there are many over-the-counter remedies, and starting them early can help keep symptoms under control.

Antihistamines reduce runny nose, itching and sneezing, but some, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), can make you sleepy. Non-sedating Claritin, Allegra or Zyrtec might be better choices if you’re elderly or prone to falls.

Decongestants shrink swollen blood vessels and relieve the pressure in your nose and head. Sudafed requires a prescription in Oregon, but phenylephrine works well and is available over the counter. To avoid rebound congestion, don’t use phenylephrine sprays (Afrin) for more than three consecutive days.

Corticosteroid nasal sprays, such as Nasacort, Flonase and Rhinocort, are anti-inflammatory sprays that can be used daily to keep things under control (unlike the decongestant Afrin, which should be limited).

Eye drops that contain antihistamines can relieve itching and redness. Lubricating drops can help with dry eyes.

Read the back labels to match your specific symptoms to the right product. Also, note that many of these remedies work differently and are OK to take together. If your symptoms are out of control and nothing seems to help, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Pharmacist Amanda Tobias works in our Beaverton and South offices.