The Rural Pharmacist: BBQ Success & Allergy Season
By Henry Tempelman, Pharmacist/Owner of Kakabeka/Rosslyn Pharmacy
On Saturday, June 15, we hosted our 2nd Annual Community Yard Sale & BBQ at Rosslyn IDA Pharmacy and what a turnout! We had 17 vendors selling a variety of products from home yard sale items to paintings to honey to homemade jewellery and bows. We were lucky to have a beautiful day and it was great to see everyone from the community come out and enjoy the day, while raising money for the Rural Cupboard Food Bank. We sold out of burgers and hot dogs, went out and bought some more, and sold out again! The community event raised over $600 for the Rural Cupboard Food Bank, and multiple bags of donated food items. Great job and a huge thank you to all who were involved and helped out to make the event a success for everyone! Thanks for supporting local business!
Now our pharmacists’ work on the BBQ on that day was nothing to sneeze at! (Full time pharmacist and part-time grillmaster? Those burgers and hot dogs didn’t sell out because they tasted bad!) No, those sneezes on that beautiful sunny day may have been the result of allergies. Allergy season is in full swing and there are ways to protect yourself so you don’t have those “Just Finished a Sappy Romantic Movie” sniffles and swollen eyes.
Allergic Rhinitis is characterized by inflammation of the nasal mucosa when it becomes sensitized to allergens (pollen, molds, dust mites, pets). This inflammation results in the release of histamines and inflammatory agents which results in symptoms of runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and throat, minor congestion. These symptoms can impact quality of life and interfere with work/school performance along with lifestyle.
Up to 40% of Canadians are affected by allergic rhinitis and that number is said to be increasing. Children are more likely to be affected by seasonal allergies, while adults are more likely to have persistent year-round allergic rhinitis, with a possibility of exacerbation of symptoms occurring during pregnancy. Allergic rhinitis is commonly associated with asthma and atopic dermatitis, and there is a genetic predisposition to these conditions. There are also several medications that can contribute to allergic rhinitis symptoms. Talk to your pharmacist if you’re curious if any of your medications are contributing to allergy symptoms!
Prevention is the best way to manage allergic rhinitis. Before reaching for medications, start by removing old dusty furniture, keep windows closed, don’t hang dry clothes outside, use a dehumidifier, replace carpets with hardwood flooring if there’s a pet, and I can go on and on. Intranasal saline spray and irrigation may be effective in reducing nasal symptoms and reducing the need for pharmacologic therapy.
Next up: OTC Oral antihistamines are the most effective option, which include 1st generation (Benadryl, Tripolon) and 2nd generation (Reactine, Claritin, Allegra, Aerius) along with the generic equivalents. These can be used to reduce symptoms of sneezing, itching and runny nose, while Aerius and Allegra are more effective for relieving symptoms of congestion. There are also combination antihistamine & decongestant products which are effective, but not recommended for long-term use. Antihistamines can be taken as needed or daily for prevention of symptoms, although 2nd generation are recommended for daily use because they are less likely to cause drowsiness.
Nasal Steroids are effective for more moderate/severe symptoms of runny nose, itching, sneezing, which when controlled may resolve symptoms of itchy eyes. They can be used in combination with antihistamines, which may be required to control symptoms. There are options OTC (Flonase, Nasocort) and prescription options. Sometimes, using an intranasal decongestant (Dristan, Otrivin) for a 2-3 days is recommended before using nasal steroid so that the nasal passage is clear. However, nasal decongestant use for more than a week at a time can lead to rebound congestion, which means congestion symptoms return once the nasal decongestant is discontinued; Nasal steroids do not cause rebound congestion. Nasal steroids can cause the nose to become dry and prone to nosebleeds – there are nasal saline mists and lubricating gels that can help with these symptoms.
Many of these options are safe and effective for pregnant women and children, at the appropriate dosages. There are some options that come in children specific formulations and other options that are better for children than others. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor when deciding which is best for you or your child.
If you have prescription drug coverage check with your pharmacist about which options may be covered by your drug plan! Instead of buying OTC every month, you might be covered for that same drug or a similar alternative under your plan.
Disclaimer: Your pharmacist cannot help you with your “Allergy to Work” or “Allergy to your Spouse”. We are not aware of the science that backs these claims. Further studies are needed.