These 5 Strategies Can Help You Get Through Allergy Season
Wish your seasonal allergies would bite the dust? Whether your symptoms include endless sneezing, watery eyes or an itchy throat, seasonal allergies are never fun. Check out these five strategies that could help you tame those sniffles once and for all.
5 Strategies to Help You Through Allergy Season
See An Allergist
Picking an allergy medication in the drugstore can feel like throwing darts at a board. Plus, you'll need to make sure that the medication or dose—even if it's over-the-counter—doesn't interact with drugs you're taking for diabetes or other conditions, says Melanie Dispenza, M.D., Ph.D., an allergist at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. Seeing a board-certified allergist, particularly one with experience working with clients with diabetes, is your best bet for identifying exactly what you're allergic to and ensuring safe and effective treatment.
Ask Before Using Steroids
If your doctor recommends starting a steroid to gain control of severe symptoms, check in with your allergist or endocrinologist first. "Extra steroid use may increase blood glucose levels," says Alice Hoyt, M.D., an allergist at the Cleveland Clinic. That said, there's conflicting data on how much nasal steroid sprays, such as fluticasone, impact blood sugar, she says. So, your allergist may want to take you on a supervised trial run of the medication before you begin to take it regularly.
Try Newer Antihistamines
Because antihistamines like diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl) are so familiar, you may feel more comfortable taking these multiple times a day to manage symptoms. However, "these can make you very groggy to the point where you can fall asleep and miss a meal or a blood sugar check," says Hoyt, and both can be dangerous. A better option is a second-generation longer-acting antihistamine like fexofenadine (e.g., Allegra) or loratadine (e.g., Claritin), which are taken just once per day and won't be sedating, she says.
Related: What Is a Low-Histamine Diet?
You may feel overwhelmed by the schedule of meds that goes with managing both diabetes and allergies. Immunotherapy—a regimen of shots given over the course of three to five years—can decrease the need for allergy medications for patients with severe symptoms, says Hoyt. Allergy shots require a big time commitment and, depending on your insurance coverage, can be costly, so talk with your allergist to weigh these factors against the length of your allergy season and the effectiveness of your current treatment strategy.
One goal of allergy treatment is to help you to feel well enough so you can stay active and enjoy the outdoors, says Dispenza. That's why it's important to take your allergy medications if your allergist recommends them. If you're allergic to pollen, you can also check pollen counts—this can be done on a weather app on your phone or by signing up for daily alerts via Pollen.com. When counts are high, consider moving your workout indoors: walk the mall or try out a class at your local rec center. By learning to pivot when you need to, you can participate in the activities you love and enjoy the season, despite your allergies.
This story originally appeared in Diabetic Living Summer 2020.