POSTED: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 11:00pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 3:03pm
(StatePoint) Unfortunately, beautiful flowers and warm weather can also mean itchy, watery eyes, sneezing fits and nasal congestion.
These days, pollen from plants and flowers typically are released earlier in the year than in the past, causing longer allergy seasons according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, which noted that 2012 was one of the worst such seasons on record.
While there is no cure-all for seasonal allergies, popular over-the-counter (OTC) medications can provide relief for the most common symptoms. These guidelines can help you better manage your seasonal allergies:
Season for Sneezing
Popular OTC antihistamines can provide relief from sneezing, runny noses and irritated, watery eyes by blocking the action of histamine, a chemical in the body that triggers congestion and upper respiratory discomfort.
All Stuffed Up?
Decongestants like pseudoephedrine (PSE) relieve a stuffy nose by actually narrowing the blood vessels in nasal passages so you can breathe more easily. PSEs are now located behind the pharmacy counter because they are an ingredient that can be used to make the illegal drug methamphetamine (meth). Rest assured though, PSE has been safely used for decades.
If you're congested, consider treating your symptoms and doing your part to keep your community safer at the same time. Ask your pharmacist about new Nexafed 30mg pseudoephedrine HCl tablets, the next-generation PSE that provides the same effective relief from nasal congestion as standard PSEs, but with technology that disrupts the extraction and conversion of pseudoephedrine into meth.
Itchy, Watery Eyes
Over-the-counter eye drops that are specifically designed to treat allergy symptoms can be found in any drug store and can be very effective at reliving redness and washing away allergens.
Also consider using an air purifier or humidifier in your house to help clear the air of possible irritants.
Eat for Allergy Relief
According to experts, certain foods you may already be enjoying have allergy-fighting properties. For example, quercetin, found in oranges, broccoli and sweet potatoes, can help reduce your body's reaction to pollen. Or, try loading up on salmon and walnuts, as omega-3 fatty acids are thought to alleviate itchy eyes and a runny nose.
If you have questions or doubts about which medications may be best for you, talk with your pharmacist. And if symptoms worsen or last for more than two weeks, be sure to see your doctor.
Rest assured, relief for seasonal allergy symptoms does exist! Visit your local drugstore or the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America 's website for more information on how to treat seasonal allergies. You can check the daily pollen level in your area at National Allergy Bureau  online.
There's no reason to miss out on the warm weather and all fun outdoor activities this time of year has to offer.