1 ALLERGYGUIDE Tips and advice from your pharmacist.
2 Rite Aid Pharmacists: Your Allergy Advisors Rite Aid pharmacists are committed to providing the everyday products and services that help their valued customers lead healthier, happier lives. An important part of that quality service is found in patient education. That s why Rite Aid has worked together with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) to obtain information to help develop this allergy guide. The AAAAI is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States dedicated to advancing the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Much of the information included in this guide has been provided by the AAAAI. As Rite Aid continues its mission of ensuring customers receive the quality service that really makes a difference, the AAAAI has been an invaluable resource in helping us further that mission. The AAAAI does not endorse any particular pharmacy or commercial product within this booklet; it is dedicated to providing comprehensive educational information regarding allergies and allergic conditions. 2
3 Keep windows closed in your house and car to reduce exposure to pollens. 3 Allergies At-A-Glance The symptoms may be familiar the runny nose, watery eyes, wheezing or sneezing that can go along with allergies. But what are allergies? What causes them? And how do you begin to treat them? Allergies are your body s over-reaction to common things found in the environment called allergens. Allergens can include pollen or mold spores. They might include the dead flakes of skin or saliva from household pets called animal dander. Dust is a common allergen, as are certain foods or drugs. 1 And while having allergies may be hereditary, the allergen that triggers your symptoms may be completely different than those of your family members. 2 The good news is that allergies can be controlled and treated. You begin by: Learning what triggers your allergies. Working with your healthcare professional and pharmacist to diagnose and relieve your allergies. Making lifestyle changes to reduce allergens around you. 1 Did you know? The long or short of it is: No matter what the length of your pet s fur, your pet produces dander. 2 Sources: 1. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. How to Help Your Allergies and Asthma. 2. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: Prevention of Allergies and Asthma in Children. 3. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: Outdoor Allergens. 3
4 Testing for Allergies In order to treat your allergies, your doctor may first ask to perform a number of simple allergy tests. This will better help you understand just what allergens affect you, determine the right treatment, and guide any lifestyle changes that may further control your allergies. 1 The most common types of allergy tests are skin tests and blood tests (also called radioallergosorbent or RAST tests). Because different allergens are made up of different proteins, these allergy tests use these proteins to help demonstrate which of them are causing your symptoms. For skin tests, this can be done by pricking or scratching the skin with a tiny quantity of an allergen protein, or by injecting this protein under the skin with a syringe using a technique called intradermal testing. For blood tests, your doctor will take a blood sample and introduce the allergen there. 1 The results for skin tests are usually available very quickly often within 15 minutes of testing while processing the results of blood tests is more involved and therefore, may take slightly longer. 1 By knowing the allergies that affect you, you take one step closer to a more allergy-free day! By understanding your allergies and how to treat them, soon you and your family will be on your way to a healthier, more allergy-free lifestyle. 2 Understanding Allergy Symptoms Allergy symptoms can be caused by a number of very different allergens. So how do you determine whether you have allergies and, if so, what you re allergic to? What if your head is stuffy and you re sneezing? What if you re experiencing dry and itchy skin? The charts on the following pages can guide you. Just remember, this information is intended to help you educate yourself on common allergic conditions, and shouldn t replace professional diagnosis. Consult your healthcare professional with any questions or concerns about the symptoms that may be affecting you. Your doctor is there to make sure you receive proper diagnosis and treatment. Sources: 1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: What is Allergy Testing? 2. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. How to Help Your Allergies and Asthma. 4
5 Avoid fresh cut grass and raking leaves they stir up pollens and molds. 1 I m sneezing and my head s stuffed up. Many people may not realize they have allergies, often thinking that their congestion and runny nose may be a cold. Left untreated, allergies can contribute to more serious conditions like sinusitis or ear infections. It is important to distinguish between allergies and colds, enlisting the help of a physician when appropriate. A cold is caused by a virus, where as an allergy is the body s response to a specific allergen. Allergens are often common, otherwise harmless substances such as pollen, mold spores, animal dander, dust, foods, insect venoms and drugs. Symptoms Duration Triggers or Causes Colds - Fever Symptoms should clear Virus - Aches and pains up within several days to - Allergy symptoms a week. Symptoms usually take a few days to hit full force. Allergies - Runny or stuffy nose - Sneezing Symptoms last as long as you are exposed to Allergens such as pollen, mold spores, animal - Wheezing the allergen and until the dander, dust, foods, insect - Itchiness of eyes, nose reaction triggered by venoms and possibly drugs. and throat the allergen ends. If the Symptoms begin allergen is present yearalmost immediately after round, symptoms may exposure to allergen(s). be chronic. Acute - Profuse, thick, colored Symptoms may persist for Acute sinusitis is often Sinusitis nasal drainage several weeks, especially caused by a bacterial - Bad tasting, if not treated. infection. It usually develops post-nasal drip as a complication of a viral - Cough respiratory infection, such as - Head congestion or the common cold, especially if headache symptoms last more than - A plugged up nose 7 to 10 days. - A feeling of facial swelling - Toothache The inflammation seen - Constant tiredness is usually triggered by - Fever inadequate draining. This may be seen due to allergies, viral or bacterial infections or physical problems in the nose. Chronic Chronic sinusitis A diagnosis of chronic Factors such as allergies Sinusitis symptoms are similar to sinusitis is made when or bacterial infection also those of acute sinusitis, sinusitis symptoms play a major role in chronic however, patients usually persist for more than sinusitis by producing do not have a fever. 8 weeks. mucus and swelling in the sinus membranes. Sources: 1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: Sinusitis. 5
6 My skin is really dry and itchy. What do I do? Whenever you have an unusual rash, be sure to contact your family physician or allergist. They can help determine the cause, whether it is allergies, irritants, or another trigger. Most importantly, your physician and other health care providers can offer a support system and assist you in managing your skin condition. You may have more than just dry skin. There are several skin conditions that share symptoms similar to those of dry skin. They include eczema, hives or urticaria, and contact dermatitis. Eczema is a common allergic skin reaction often seen on the face, elbows and knees that appears as an itchy, bumpy rash. It is often caused by overheating or sweating, contact with irritants such as wool, pets or soaps, emotional stress, food and infections. Hives or urticaria are red, itchy, swollen areas of the skin that can range in size and appear anywhere on the body. Hives are often caused by a viral infection, drug, food or latex, or reactions to medicines and foods. Allergic contact dermatitis is best identified by an itchy, red, blistered reaction and occurs where the offending agent such as a plant or chemical comes in contact with the skin. Reactions can occur hours after contact. For all three of these allergic skin conditions, preventing the itch is the primary goal of treatment. There are some self-treatments that you may find helpful for relieving itchy skin: Applying cold compresses Lubricating the dry skin with cream or ointment Removing irritants that aggravate the condition Relieving symptoms with oral antihistamines or topical anti-inflammatory medications (see the shopping guide) Did you know? Pollens from plants with bright flowers, like roses, usually don t trigger allergies. Their pollen is larger and harder to inhale. 1 Common treatments include over-the-counter medications and in some cases, prescriptions. Please refer to page 8 for Rite Aid pharmacist recommendations. If you have any questions, please consult your Rite Aid pharmacist or doctor. Sources: 1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: Allergic Skin Conditions. 6
7 Reduce the risk of childhood food allergies by delaying the child s exposure to potentially allergenic foods like milk, wheat, corn, egg, fish and peanuts. 1 Allergy Prevention in Children Did you know you can reduce the chance that your child develops certain allergies? To reduce the risk of food allergies, delay your child s exposure to foods that are commonly known to be allergens by introducing them in stages. For infants, if breastfeeding isn t possible, consider using partially predigested, protein hydrolysate formulas over milk- or soy-based choices, which may cause allergic reactions. 1 Solid foods should be introduced one at a time so that foods causing a reaction can be identified and eliminated. After one year, you may add milk, wheat, corn, citrus and soy. Consult your physician for guidance regarding advancement of your child s diet. To reduce the risk of environmental allergies, control dust and animal dander by taking the preventative measures discussed in Top Ten Tips to Allergy-Proofing in this guide. By taking measures the moment you bring your child home from the hospital, you really can help your child get off to a healthier, happier and more allergy-free start. 1 Sources: 1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: Prevention of Allergies and Asthma in Children. 7
8 Shopping for Allergy Relief There are so many over-the-counter allergy medications available today that choosing the right one can be very confusing. Do you need an antihistamine or a decongestant? How do you find the proper treatment for you? The following chart suggests a number of products that can be effective to treat common allergies and their Symptoms What To Use How It Works - Runny nose Oral Antihistamines Blocks histamine, which causes many allergy symptoms, - Sneezing such as itching of the eyes and nose, runny nose, and - Watery and itchy eyes sneezing. - Runny nose Oral Antihistamines/ Blocks histamine to relieve allergy symptoms, including - Stuffy nose Decongestants itching of the eyes and nose, runny nose, and sneezing. - Sneezing Narrows blood vessels and reduces blood flow in the - Watery and itchy eyes affected area, which helps clear congestion and improves breathing. - Stuffy nose Oral Decongestants Narrows blood vessels and reduces blood flow in the affected area, which helps clear congestion and improves breathing. Nasal Decongestants Nasal Strips Same as above. Do not use more than 3 days because rebound congestion can occur. Drug-free strips that lift the sides of the nose to open the nasal passages. - Watery and itchy eyes Eye Drops Narrows blood vessels and blocks histamine in the eye - Redness to relieve symptoms. - Watery eyes Nasal Mast Cell Prevents mast cell release of histamine and other - Runny nose Inhibitors triggers of inflammation. It does not stop inflammation - Sneezing once it has begun. You should start treatment before the allergy season begins and use daily. - Itchy skin / Moisturizing Creams Lubricates dry skin. rash / hives Anti-inflammatory Acts against most causes of inflammation by decreasing Ointments and Creams: the formation, release and activity of histamine and Topical Corticosteroids other triggers of inflammation. Topical Antihistamines Oral Antihistamines Includes some local anesthetic activity to relieve itching. Blocks histamine, one of the most important mediators of the allergic response. 8
9 Avoid tobacco smoke, which can worsen allergy and asthma symptoms. 1 symptoms. If you have any questions, make sure you consult your doctor or pharmacist. They can help you understand the differences between similar products, so you can get the right treatment and start feeling better soon. Rite Aid Pharmacist Recommends* Diphenhydramine: Rite Aid Complete Allergy, Benadryl Loratadine: Rite Aid Loratadine, Claritin Diphenhydramine / pseudoephedrine: Benadryl D Brompheniramine / pseudoephedrine: Rite Aid Cold and Allergy DiBromm Elixir, Dimetapp Cold and Allergy Elixir Did you know? You can get up-to-date pollen counts for your area online at Loratadine / pseudoephedrine: Rite Aid Lorata-D, Claritin-D Phenylephrine: Sudafed PE Pseudoephedrine: Rite Aid Pseudoephedrine, Sudafed Oxymetazoline: Rite Aid 12-Hour Nasal Spray, Afrin Phenylephrine: Neo-Synephrine Rite Aid Nasal Strips, Breathe Right Naphazoline and pheniramine: Rite Aid Eye Allergy Relief Drops, Visine A, Naphcon A, Zaditor Cromolyn Sodium, Nasalcrom Rite Aid Oatmeal Lotion, Aveeno, Eucerin Hydrocortisone cream, lotion and ointment: Rite Aid Hydrocortisone, Cortizone 10 Diphenhydramine combination products: Rite Aid Anti-itch Cream (Spray or Gel), Benadryl Topical Diphenhydramine: Rite Aid Complete Allergy, Benadryl Loratadine: Rite Aid Loratadine, Claritin 9 * Generally, antihistamines may cause drowsiness and should not be used if driving or operating machinery, while decongestants tend to keep people awake and may increase heart rate and blood pressure. Allergy relief products may interact with other medications or health conditions, so be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist what you are taking. Some allergy products, like nasal decongestants and some eye drops should only be used for 3 days. Be sure to follow the labeled instructions. Remember, children should only be treated under the direction of their physician. These products are listed for educational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis. Please consult your health care professional with any questions about your symptoms or the treatment options that may be right for you. The previously named products have not been reviewed or approved by the AAAAI. Sources: 1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: Traveling with Allergies and Asthma.
10 Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Doctor Think you may suffer from allergies? Your healthcare professional can help you determine whether you do have allergies, what allergens trigger them, and whether over-the-counter or prescription medications, if any, are appropriate. Some questions to ask your doctor could include: 1. What are the treatment choices for my allergies? 1 2. Would allergy shots be helpful in my case? 2 3. How can I prevent or minimize my exposure to allergens? 1 4. How can I tell whether my children have allergies, too, or if they will develop them? 1 5. What can I do to prevent my child from developing allergies or asthma? 3 Did you know? An allergy is a real medical condition that deserves treatment, and is not in your head Will my medications make me sleepy or cause other side effects? 1 7. Will my medications react with other drugs I m taking? 1 8. How much medication should I take, and how often? 1 9. When should I stop taking medication? 1 10.Are there other symptoms of allergies I should look for? 1 Remember, your Rite Aid pharmacist and doctor are there to support the health of you and your family, so don t hesitate to share your concerns about allergies, as you would with any other medical condition. Did you know? Moving to another region may help you avoid old allergies but also develop new ones! 4 Sources: 1. Doctor s Questions Document, from Rite Aid. 2. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Allergic Rhinitis. 3. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: Prevention of Allergies and Asthma in Children. 4. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: Outdoor Allergens. 5. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. How to Help Your Allergies and Asthma. 10
11 When the humidity is high, stay indoors and use air conditioning. This can lessen your exposure to dusts and pollens. 3 Top Ten Tips to Allergy-Proofing Did you know there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your exposure to the allergens that affect you and your family? 1. Reduce the clutter in your home that collects dust Use zippered, allergy-proof plastic covers on mattresses, box springs and pillows to reduce dust mites in areas where you sleep Wash bedding in 130 degree water 1 every seven to ten days. This helps kill dust mites Clean your home weekly to remove dust, molds and pet dander Consider replacing wall-to-wall carpeting with washable throw rugs to reduce dander, molds and dust mites Keep pets out of the bedroom and bathe them weekly if you are allergic to pet dander. Although there is no conclusive evidence, some studies have found that using a HEPA air cleaner may reduce animal allergen exposure Use a dehumidifier to keep your house dry and reduce the growth of molds Request that family and guests refrain from smoking in your car and home Keep windows closed and use air conditioning on high-humidity or windy days. 3,4 10. Dry clothes and bedding through an electric clothes dryer instead of hanging them outside. Pollen and molds could collect on them. 3 Sources: 1. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. How to Help Your Allergies and Asthma. 2. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: Prevention of Allergies and Asthma in Children. 3. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Patients & Consumers Center: Tips to Remember: Outdoor Allergens. 4. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Allergic Rhinitis. 11
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