understanding your allergies

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Summer Allergies

Pollen season has arrived, and you want to be enjoying the outdoors instead of suffering from allergy symptoms. London Drugs is here to lend you a helping hand with everything you need so you can get out and enjoy your summer.

Here’s a survival guide to help you through it.


You may not see the tiny flowers on many trees, grasses and other plants, but you'll sure know they're there if you're allergic to their pollen. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming – and your seasonal allergies are starting. Here's a survival guide.

Know your allergens. If you start to get the sneezing fits in early spring, you're most likely allergic to tree pollen. Late spring and summer fits may be due to grass pollen. And for some people, allergies last until fall, meaning they are also likely allergic to ragweed.

Take your allergy medications. Start taking your non-prescription allergy medications as soon as you start experiencing symptoms as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist. Always read and follow the label directions.

Step into the sunshine – but later in the day. Pollen counts are highest in the morning. Consider doing your morning walk in the evening. Save outdoor chores for later in the day.

Be prepared. During allergy season you can check for pollen counts on the Weather Network – online or on TV – or during your local television weather forecast. If the pollen count is high or if the conditions are windy, consider spending your day indoors.

When you have been outside for any extended period of time, take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes. If you can't take a shower, rinse your nose (and eyes if you have eye symptoms) with water (saline solution if that's handy). Don't wear the same clothes again until you've washed them in hot water. And speaking of cleaning clothes, don't dry them outside – you'll only bring pollen back into the house and closer to you.

Keep the air clean in your home. It may be tempting to let the fresh spring air into your home, but it's better for your allergies if you keep doors and windows shut. Use air conditioning at home and in your car. Aerosol sprays and tobacco smoke can make allergy symptoms worse, so avoid these in the home.


Source(s) - © McNeil Consumer Healthcare, division of Johnson & Johnson Inc. 2010

Understanding Your Allergies


Understanding my allergies - inside and out

Welcome to your allergy guide. It's your headquarters for the tools you need .... Learn More >

From recognizing your symptoms, to identifying your triggers, and creating strategies to lessen your discomfort, it’s all here.

As you may already know, having allergies can mean anything from a mild inconvenience, to a significant discomfort. They can impair your ability to enjoy life and live it to the fullest. We’re talking here about the most common allergies that are caused by ordinary environmental elements such as grasses, trees, pets and dust.

So to help minimize the disruption caused by allergies, keep reading for useful information and advice on how best to manage them. Please note: This guide is intended to cover the most common, environmental allergies, such as hay fever, ragweed, dust mites, and mold. It does not address the far more rare and life-threatening anaphylactic reactions or allergies to food, medications, or insects. These allergies are serious and can even be life-threatening, but are found in a relatively smaller percentage of the population.

Allergic reactions on skin

Allergies don't just make you sneeze. They can show up as hives or rashes too .... Learn More >

Insect bites or stings can also cause allergic reactions. Many rashes or cases of hives are harmless, but if you are worried about a skin reaction, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms, see your doctor.*

Here is a primer on common allergic reactions on skin:



Insect bites or stings

*Seek medical attention immediately if you are experiencing a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction, as BENADRYL® is not indicated for such use.


Hives are a common allergic reaction caused by the release of histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream. (Also known as urticaria.)

APPEARANCE: Itchy, red or skin-coloured welts that come and go over several days (unlike chicken pox or insect bites). When you press the center, they turn white. Can range in size from a small dot to several centimetres in diameter and can join together. They do not usually leave a lasting mark.

TREATMENT: Use BENADRYL® Itch Cream or BENADRYL® Itch Spray.

If hives are widespread, using oral BENADRYL® products can also help relieve the swelling and itching (and therefore help prevent scratching).

TIP: Avoid hot baths or showers and tight clothing during or just after an episode of hives.

CALL THE DOCTOR IF: You have a severe reaction with swelling of the throat.


APPEARANCE: Rashes may or may not include these symptoms:

  • redness
  • itchiness
  • swelling or bumps
  • oozing or blisters
  • flaking or scaling

CAUSES: Many things can cause rashes, such as an allergic reaction (including a reaction to medication), infection, or overheating.

Also, if an irritant comes in direct contact with skin, it can cause contact dermatitis, a red, very itchy or burning area, sometimes with blisters. It can take 24 or 48 hours to show up. Plus, the reaction might not happen after the first contact, but after repeated exposure, such as using the same lotion or detergent many times.

Common causes of allergic contact dermatitis: Poison ivy or oak, metals (such as nickel in jewelry), rubber or latex, cosmetics, and detergents.

TREATMENT: Gently clean the rash area with mild soap and water to remove the irritant. To relieve the itch, use BENADRYL® Itch Cream or BENADRYL® Itch Spray.

Oral BENADRYL® products will also help relieve itching (and therefore help prevent scratching).

TIP: Cool, wet compresses can sooth the itch.

CALL THE DOCTOR IF: The rash is severe, is accompanied by other symptoms, gets worse quickly or doesn’t subside within a week.

Insect bites

When an insect bites or stings, your immune system reacts to the insect’s venom or other substance, causing redness, swelling, itching, or pain.

APPEARANCE: Bites from mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, and black flies can cause redness, swelling and itching. Some can also cause tenderness and blistering. These symptoms usually disappear slowly over a few days.

TREATMENT: Apply BENADRYL® Bug Bite Relief for fast, effective relief of itchiness and pain from insect bites and stings. It has a topical antihistamine/analgesic and a skin protectant to give you triple action relief that relieves itch, soothes pain, and protects skin.

Oral BENADRYL® products will also help relieve swelling and itching (and therefore help prevent scratching).

TIP: : Keep the bite area and fingernails clean to avoid infection from scratching. Try pushing on a bite instead of scratching, or use cold compresses.

CALL THE DOCTOR IF: You develop hives, face or throat swelling, or difficulty breathing (seek urgent care). If swelling, redness or pain around the bite gets worse after the initial reaction, you might have an infection. Also watch for nausea, vomiting, chills, fever, cramps, muscle aches, dizziness, confusion or weakness after an insect bite.

Mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus and malaria (in some countries) and ticks can carry Lyme disease. Check with your doctor if you develop unusual symptoms such as fever, joint pains or rash after an insect bite.


The first three steps of allergy treatment

This time of year, a lot of patients are asking me about seasonal allergy remedies ..... Learn More >

This time of year, a lot of patients are asking me about seasonal allergy remedies. They are surprised when I tell them that medications such as Reactine or Aerius are Step 3 in the treatment protocol. Step 1 is allergen avoidance and Step 2 is allergen removal. I must mention at this point that for those with serious symptoms, such as bacterial sinusitis or allergic asthma, please see your doctor.

Step 1—Allergen Avoidance
How can you avoid allergens in the air? Allergen loads are highest pre-dawn, so if you have allergies, try not sleeping with the windows open overnight will be a great help. Also, if you can control your schedule, don’t go out first thing in the morning. If you can’t change your schedule, plan to arrive a little earlier so you can splash some water on your face to remove any allergen particles.

Step 2—Allergen Removal
Allergen removal is just as important as a choosing an antihistamine. After outside activities take a shower to wash the pollen out of your hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. During your shower, let the water briefly run over your eyeballs so that it can rinse out any pollen. Don’t forget to blow your nose after the shower, as well.

If you can’t have a shower, at the very least carry around some artificial tears (such as Blink or Systane) and instill into the eyes a couple of times while you are out. Also, carry around some physiologic saline (such as London Drugs Saline 0.9%) or a nasal lubricant such as Rhinaris Nasal Spray. These artificial tears and nasal sprays will also help maintain mucosal health (important when the eyes and nose are irritated).

Step 3—Allergy Treatment
If you are stringent with Steps 1 and 2, your antihistamine will appear to work that much better. Benadryl is the gold standard, but it causes drowsiness in a lot of people. If this is you, Reactine and Aerius is a good first choice; they are at least as potent as Benadryl, but it does not cause drowsiness in the vast majority of people, and they are both sufficiently long lasting that they only need to be taken once per day.

Be weather aware
The above measures are usually enough for most people, but pollen loads wax and wane. The Weather Network posts its pollen index for various pollens in your area. When the pollen load is particularly high, performing sinus lavages with the Neilmed Sinus Rinse Kit or HydraSense may be necessary. The lavage has enough volume to flush out the sinuses; the saline/lubricant nasal sprays do not have enough volume to serve as a lavage.

Even with the above, seasonal allergic symptoms can still progress and be bothersome. That is why nasal corticosteroids (e.g. Nasonex), ophthalmic antihistamines (e.g. Patanol), orally inhaled corticosteroids (e.g. Flovent), leukotriene receptor antagonists (e.g. Singulair), and desensitization shots exist. But you’d have to see your doctor for those.

Managing my allergies

The key to minimizing the impact of allergies is taking charge of them .... Learn More >

Once you have a better understanding of allergies it’s time to be proactive. Use this knowledge to find strategies that help with what matters most; stopping allergies harming your quality of life.

The usual symptoms – nasal and/or sinus congestion and pressure, dripping nose, sneezing, reddened or itchy eyes can impair sleep and concentration, leaving you feeling well below par.

Indeed a Harris-Decima study for REACTINE®,1 found that more than fifty percent of Canadians feel that allergies have an impact on their lifestyle.

They contribute to “presentism2,” where you are physically there at work or school, but you are neither at your best nor as productive. Some allergy sufferers even curtail social interactions because dripping noses and sneezing may make others assume they are infectious.

An empowered mindset will lessen the impact of your allergies upon your overall wellbeing.

It will enable you start finding the right balance of lifestyle and routine changes, as well as consideration of what allergy medication will work best for you.

REACTINE® is here to help. The following articles will cover a variety of strategies and medications to help you manage your allergies. It will encourage you to consider the environment in which you work, play, sleep, and live, to discover a multitude of ways you can lessen exposure to potential allergens in each setting.


Allergy-proofing your home

Allergies are considered one of the most common health problems for people .... Learn More >

The best way to avoid allergy symptoms is to ensure you are not exposed to anything that can trigger your allergies. When you're out, it may be difficult to avoid allergens. But at home, you can control what goes on in your house.

Food allergy sufferers should know not to eat any known allergy-causing foods. You should tell guests about your food allergy before they visit so they'll know not to bring any foods that trigger your allergy. If other members of your family would like to continue eating a specific food, it may be possible to keep it in a separate cupboard in the kitchen, but always check first with your health care provider to find out if that would cause any risk for the affected family member.

If you're allergic to latex or to metals such as nickel, dyes, cosmetics, fragrances, or perfumes, the simplest way to avoid an allergic reaction is to not purchase or use any of these products. Try one of the following:

  • Buy fragrance-free versions of the products you would normally purchase. Choose products that are for sensitive skin – these tend to contain milder irritants.
  • Wear jewellery that's not nickel-based (nickel is a very common compound of jewellery), such as gold or silver. Also, look for jewellery that is specifically labelled "nickel-free."
  • Try rubber- and latex-free alternatives. Instead of latex gloves, try nylon or vinyl.

People allergic to airborne substances (e.g., dust, pollen, mould, pet dander) need to find ways to stop these substances from floating in the air. Here are some tips:

  • Keep doors and windows shut at all times. Use air conditioning when the weather is hot.
  • Use a HEPA filter.
  • Check for cracks in windows and doorways and seal them (this can also save on your energy bills).
  • Change your clothes and take a shower when you have been outdoors for any extended period of time.
  • Vacuum and dust regularly, at least once a week.
  • Keep pets outdoors. If that's not possible, keep them in one room of the house only, and not in your bedroom. Try getting a hypoallergenic pet, which produces less dander, and bathe your pet once a week.

Source(s) - © McNeil Consumer Healthcare, division of Johnson & Johnson Inc. 2010

My allergy triggers

Allergy triggers, or allergens, are found all around us. .... Learn More >

From the air we breathe, to the ground we walk on, there are allergens all around us. Identifying your allergy triggers, and their effects can lead directly to strategies to manage them.

A helpful way to track your triggers and reactions is to record your symptoms for a few months. Looking back at it, you may find clues and answers there. If you are having trouble identifying your trigger you can always visit your local allergist to undergo allergy testing.

There are three main groups of allergy triggers:

1. Outdoor allergens
Allergens such as tree, grass and weed pollen that are lightweight, and can easily become airborne.

2. Indoor allergens
Allergens such as mold and dust mites that thrive in warm, humid environments.

3. Pet allergens
Pet allergens are found in our pets’ urine, saliva, and dander.

Managing allergies can be complicated. We are experiencing changes in our climate that have an impact on the incidence of allergens. Scientists are reporting that increased snowfall in some regions and prolonged below-freezing temperatures are causing trees to flower later, causing a mass release of pollen when temperatures rise and triggering a sudden spike in allergy suffering1.

However, if you are still experiencing allergy symptoms through winter it may be time to consider additional triggers, such as indoor allergens.