October is American Pharmacists Month and we are excited to present to you a series of videos throughout the month by our very own, Bradlee Rea, PharmD, PGY-2 Pharmacy Resident in Pain and Palliative Care! Hospice of Southern Illinois is very proud to have the honor of hosting the only PGY-2 (post-graduate, year 2) in Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacy Residency Program fully funded a hospice, in the United States. So, we present to you our first video in the series on a Wellness Tip!
Bradlee Rea, PharmD, PGY-2 Pharmacy Resident in Pain and Palliative Care
Hospice of Southern Illinois
An allergy is defined as a particle that causes a reaction in someone which does not normally inconvenience people. This involves the particulate being introduced inside the lining of the nose. This leads to release of chemicals which cause contraction (making smaller) of the blood vessels in the nose. The end result is fluid escaping and the nasal passages swelling leading to nasal congestion. Allergic rhinitis is a systemic disease affecting an estimated 20% of adults and 40% of children in the United States.1 This condition leads to a large burden, and cost, to both families all over. Signs and symptoms of this disorder typically begin after 24 months and usually fade after the age of 64.2
The signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis vary from patient to patient. Typically they include sneezing (with running or clogged nose), coughing, watering eyes, and itching eyes, nose, and throat. Triggers for developing signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis come from both indoor and outdoor environmental particulates. Common outdoor triggers include pollen and mold which vary in amounts depending on the season and weather. Pollen is usually produced by trees, grasses, and weeds. They produce small, lightweight grains and are transported by the wind. Common indoor triggers include house dust mites, food, and animals. Keeping the house clean is one of the best ways to prevent many indoor triggers. In severe cases, or when allergens or mold are extremely high, some find benefit in wearing face masks to prevent pollen/mold from reaching the nasal passages.3
There are doctors who specialize in allergic diseases (allergists) who can use skin tests to determine what particulate a particular person is allergic to. This involves applying a small amount of allergen under a person’s skin and waiting to see if a small, raised, reddened area appears.
Medications are often used to treat allergic rhinitis. Antihistamines effectively reduce the signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis. There are two classes of antihistamines available, the first generation and second generation. First generation antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) are typically taken multiple times per day and have the common side-effect of drowsiness. The second generation antihistamines are typically taken once daily and are less likely to induce lethargy. These include loratadine (Claratin ®), cetirizine (Zyrtec®), and fexofenadine (Allegra®). Fluticasone nasal spray (Flonase®) has recently been approved by the FDA to move to over-the-counter status. This medication was previously only obtained by prescription, but now can be bought at your favorite pharmacy. This medication can also be used to help treat and prevent the signs and symptoms of allergies. It is important to ask your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new medication. It could interact with current medications and cause an adverse effect.
- Schoenwetter WF, Dupclay L Jr, Appajosyula S, et al. Economic impact and quality of life burden of allergic rhinitis. Curr Med Res Opin. 2004;20:305-17.
- National Center for Health Statistics. Summary health statistics for U.S. adults: national health interview survey, 2009. Vital Health Stat. 2010 Aug;10)249):19-21.
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Airborne Allergens- Something in the Air. NIH Publication No. 03-7045. 2003 April.