Allergy Season is Here
An Annapolis Primary Care Update from Evolve Medical
An Annapolis Primary Care Update from Evolve Direct Primary Care is reporting allergy season to be here and in full swing. This week in Annapolis, it is Maple, Oak and Ash which are all rated at high levels. Nearly one in five, or 50 million Americans have seasonal allergies. If you have ever wondered how things like grass, pollen, trees and molds affect your body, click here to watch an amazing video produced by the Washington Post called “Why seasonal allergies make you miserable,” first published April 20, 2015.
In a recent Time article titled, “How to Survive This Awful Allergy Season,” the authors claim, “Lingering winter cold means pollen levels could rise quickly—and so could your medical costs…We’re in for a terrible spring allergy season. Experts say that the long winter may cause early-blooming trees to pollinate late this year, which means more trees pollinating at the same time.”
How to Save Money and Suffer Less
The easiest way to save money on your allergies is to switch over to the generic form of whichever anti-histamine your prefer (Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra). Perhaps even more importantly, look online for less expensive pharmacies and discount coupons. The Evolve App provides a link (through GoodRx) that allows consumers to not only see which pharmacies in the Annapolis area has the least expensive medication but also provides a discount card that can lower the price by up to 85%.
“It looks like you can get generic Claritin for as low as $10 for 100 tablets…vs $20 for a regular box of brand-name Claritin, which has 30 tablets.” –Elizabeth Davis, Editor-In-Chief of GoodRx Blog.
If we use the analogy of a big tub over flowing with water, anti-histamines act like a sponge would, if you can imagine, soaking up the excess water that spills on the floor. The best treatment, though, would be to turn off the tap. Nasal steroid sprays, such as Flonase and Nasacort (now over the counter), stop the release of histamine in the first place allowing some users to avoid taking any antihistamines at all. And for as little as $15/month, that could save people money and more importantly, cut down on the allergy suffering. Note: Flonase/Nascort only work if taken every single day whereas Claritin, etc may be used purely as needed.
If neither antihistamines or nasal steroids are working for you, it might be time to see a doctor. Your Primary Care doctor is a good place to start. An office visit with an allergist typically runs $200 to $300 before insurance. Allergy tests can vary from $30 to $275, and even as high as $4,000. Evolve recommends asking for the cost of any testing before you test to avoid unpleasant surprises–particularly if you haven’t met your deductible (as all that cost will be yours to bear).
Home Remedies that Work
Try to stay indoors during the morning and early afternoon, when pollen levels tend to be highest, especially if you have asthma.
For sinus congestion and hay fever symptoms often improve with saline nasal irrigation — rinsing out the sinuses with a salt and water solution. You can use a neti pot or a specially designed squeeze bottle to flush out thickened mucus and irritants from your nose. Be careful: improper use of a neti pot or other device can lead to infection.Use water that’s distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller. Be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air dry.
Reduce your exposure to dust mites or pet dander by frequently washing bedding and stuffed toys in hot water, maintaining low humidity, regularly using a vacuum with a fine filter such as a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and replacing carpeting with hard flooring.
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