Tips for Allergy Season

Flowers blowing in the wind
Image Source: allef Vinicius/Unsplash

It’s official, spring is here! While many of us are excited about the rise in temperature, if you’re one of the millions of people who have seasonal allergies, you may be dreading what’s to come. Seasonal allergies can mean sneezing, congestion, a runny nose and other unpleasant symptoms. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to minimize the effects and keep allergies under control.

Reduce Your Triggers1

Limiting your exposure to allergens can help reduce your overall symptoms. A few ways you can do so are:

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Delegate lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
  • Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.

Keep Your Home Clean

While some allergens may still get into your home, there are many ways you can lessen their impact.

  • Limit the number of rugs in your home and wash any that are washable
  • Use air conditioning and utilize high-efficiency filters
  • Keep your indoor air dry with a dehumidifier

Explore Over-The-Counter Options

  • Oral antihistamines: Can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes.
    • Examples include: Claritin, Alavert, Zyrtec Allergy and Allegra Allergy
  • Decongestants: Provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Only use nasal decongestants for a few days in a row. Longer-term use of decongestant nasal sprays can actually worsen symptoms (rebound congestion).
    • Examples Include: Sudafed, Neo-Synephrine and Afrinol
  • Nasal Spray: Most effective when used before symptoms start and can ease most allergy symptoms.
  • Combination Medications: A combination of an antihistamine with a decongestant.
    • Examples Include: Claritin-D and Allegra-D

Tria Health Can Answer Your Medication Questions

If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. If you’re interested in exploring medication treatments for allergies, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations.

Source:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/in-depth/seasonal-allergies/art-20048343

Do You Take an Aspirin a Day?

On May 2nd, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report regarding the use of daily aspirin to prevent a heart attack and stroke. The FDA’s findings may drastically alter how the health care industry utilizes daily aspirin therapy.

Background:
A number of patients take a daily aspirin due to the belief that it reduces their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

“Primary Prevention” – Refers to patients with diabetes, family history of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol who have an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke and use aspirin as prevention (before either of these events occur).

“Secondary Prevention” – Refers to the use of daily aspirin therapy for patients who have had a heart attack, stroke, or having known coronary artery disease. Secondary prevention use of aspirin has well established benefits and significantly reduces the chance of a second heart attack or stroke.

The Update:
The FDA has reviewed new data regarding aspirin use for primary prevention and concluded that there is insufficient evidence at this time to support routine use of daily aspirin therapy in these patients.

What does this mean for you? 
If you have not had a heart attack, stroke, or have known coronary heart disease and you take a daily aspirin, talk to your physician about the need for continued use of aspirin and weigh the risk versus benefit of prolonged aspirin therapy.

Commit to Quit!

There are significant health benefits associated with quitting tobacco. Within one year of kicking the habit an individual’s risk of coronary heart disease will cut in half. What’s the magic solution to help you quit successfully?

Studies have shown:

  1. The use of approved medications for tobacco cessation doubles the likelihood of successfully quitting.
  2. The effects of medications used for tobacco cessation increase substantially when paired with behavioral intervention.

There are three FDA-approved drugs for smoking cessation: nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patch, lozenge, nasal spray, inhaler), bupropion, and Chantix. Read facts about each of these below.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT):
•  Use of NRT products approximately doubles quit rates
•  Available in many forms to fit your preferences and lifestyle
•  The patch, gum and lozenge are available over-the-counter
•  The nasal spray and inhaler are prescription only

Bupropion SR (Zyban):
•  Prescription only
•  Also an antidepressant; might be beneficial for individuals with depression

Chantix:
•  Prescription only, expensive if not covered
•  Decent success rate when taken as prescribed and well tolerated
•  Has more intolerable side effects than the other agents available

It’s important to consult your physician and/or pharmacist to help you determine the best medication option for you.

Limit the Tylenol

Many prescription pain medications are combination products that contain varying amounts of Tylenol, or acetaminophen.  In the past, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not placed limits on the amount of Tylenol that is included in these combo products.  That is changing as the FDA is asking manufacturers of these medications to limit the amount of Tylenol per pill to 325mg.

Excessive amounts of Tylenol can lead to serious liver damage.  If you are taking a prescription pain medication that contains Tylenol, it is important to avoid the use of over the counter products that contain acetaminophen (the same active ingredient as Tylenol).  Acetaminophen is available in a variety of over the counter remedies, including numerous cough and cold products.

Look and Ask!  Look at the active ingredient listing on all over the counter products and ask your pharmacist if you have any questions.