Allergy season is once again upon us, as if it never left (did it really?) With the wide variety of native and non-native plant species brought to Phoenix over the last few decades we have a constant set of blooming and dying plants all at once, all year long. Since moving downtown, I have certainly seen a decrease in allergy symptoms compared to living closer to the mountains (as if squaw peak counts?). What I have seen is a marked increase in blowing debris which has caused havoc on my eyes. Lets go over the current options for treating these allergies, straight from the horses mouth.
OTC Drops: I love OTC drops, especially for allergies. Its a category we've seen multiple name brand Rx drops become OTC over the past few years in eyedrops, orals, and even now steroidal nasal sprays.
NaphconA: A combo vasoconstrictor + antihistamine. While widely available and markedly cheap I do not recommend these as the vasconstrictor properties can cause even more dryness then the antihistamine itself. Use only in a pinch.
Ketotifen/Alaway/Zatidor: These are all the same drug and I highly recommend this group. It is called a mast cell stabilizer and antihistamine combination drop. Similar to what is currently on the market and still a prescription. Used twice a day these will treat acute symptoms but also work to prevent the release of histamine (the mast cell stabilizer portion) leading to better results with prolonged usage.
Prescription: If the OTC drops just aren't cutting it, its likely time to see a doctor. My first recommendation would be to make sure its not an infection. Once we've past that hurdle lets discuss the current options in the Rx space.
Pataday, Patanol, Pazeo, Lastacaf, Bepreve: These are all generally interchangeable and work within the space of antihistamine and mast cell stabilization, with potentially better efficacy then the OTC options. I personally have found OTC versions to have lower costs then copays for many of these, depending on the plans. If failing on an OTC I will likely prescribe something a bit stronger.
Steroids: Lotemax, Alrex, FML, PredMild: Generally these are considered soft steroids with lower risks then their stronger cousins but are not to be used without monitoring. While giving the best anti-inflammatory properties of the group, we save these for the most severe allergies. While antihistamines can cause mild dryness, these have the potential to lead to glaucoma and cataracts if mismanaged and misused. Only use these under your doctors supervision.
While we find ourselves allergic to everything in Arizona from the blowing dust, blooming trees, dead grass and everything in between, we certainly have the tools to protect against this. I'm currently in love with the allergy section of Costco which has everything from multi-packs of steroidal nose spray to year supplies of most generic OTC allergy pills. If you have any any further questions feel free to email, call, or schedule an appointment today!