Get a Jumpstart on Your Hay Fever

Timing can be everything when it comes to medicine for seasonal allergy relief
Get a Jumpstart on Your Hay Fever: Main Image
Be sure to refill prescriptions on time

Want the most from medicines your doctor has recommended this allergy season? Then taking them at the right time is the best way to get rid of symptoms—but the right time may be earlier than you think.

Taking once-a-day antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays a week before spring and fall allergy seasons are set to start could put you ahead of the game, says Marjorie Slankard, professor of medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. For example, in many parts of the country, ragweed season starts in mid-August, so you’d want to start your medication around the second week. “Once you start taking antihistamines, there’s a maximum buildup by day five to seven,” says Dr. Slankard.

Take your allergy medicine every day

Keeping your dose of medicine constant will help relieve allergy symptoms, so be sure to take it every day.

  • If your symptoms are worse in the morning, be sure to take the drug at night, recommends Dr. Slankard, as it will give the drug time to build up in your body and be effective when you most need it.
  • Even though you can take allergy medicines at any time of day, taking them at bedtime is also a good idea if they cause sleepiness (ask your doctor or pharmacist if yours does).

Keep your medicine on hand

Be sure to renew and refill prescriptions on time so you always have your medicine when you need it.

  • Think ahead when you're planning vacations or business trips and have prescriptions renewed or refilled beforehand, or be sure to carry your prescription and insurance information with you.
  • Ask your doctor and pharmacist the easiest way to renew and refill prescriptions, and mark your calendar.

More about symptom relief

Medicines are important, but keep these points in mind for more relief:

  • Over-the-counter saline sprays may help relieve a stuffy nose, and many people find relief using a neti pot and saline rinse to prevent pollen and other irritants from building up in the nostrils
  • Many people find relief using herbal remedies and nutritional supplements (visit the Allergies Health Center for more information)
  • Sharing other people’s allergy relief products is never a good idea
  • Using air conditioning, instead of open windows, and using an air filter during allergy season can help keep pollen out
  • Showering before bed will allow you to sleep pollen-free
Fran Kritz is a freelance writer from Silver Spring, Maryland. She tries to remember to take her allergy medicine before the sneezing starts.

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