Air of rejuvenation – and pollen 

With winter receding and flower buds beginning to blossom, a sense of rejuvenation is in the air as spring arrives. However, for many, this is also the dreaded allergy season. With pollen being released into the air from the blooming flowers and freshly mowed lawns, a world of issues can affect allergy sufferers, triggering reactions in those sensitive to this grainy stuff that makes it possible for plants to reproduce.

Characterised by symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and congestion, allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, can dampen enjoyment of the season. But with a few proactive measures and over the counter solutions available, we can help combat the effects of the condition.

Antihistamines are one of the top selling products at this time in pharmacy, with many to choose from on the shelves – from Telfast to Zyrtec and Clarantyne, to name a few. These lines are sure to be fast movers during spring. They work by blocking a symptom-causing chemical (histamine) released by our immune system during an allergic reaction.

Many of these products are non-drowsy, so they’re safe for our customers to take during the day to fight their symptoms. But always check with your pharmacist to determine the best medication and dosage for each customer.

Many other products can be recommended over the counter to help combat your customers’ ailments when it comes to hay fever – from nasal sprays to eye drops, depending on the symptoms.

A great tip to recommend to your customers, which is safe for most people, is a saline nasal rinse. Using this can help to flush out the allergens, such as pollen, dust and other debris, and help to loosen thick mucus.

If a customer’s symptoms are severe and unmanageable with over-the-counter products, a doctor may prescribe medications such as prescription-only corticosteroid nasal sprays, or even put them on the pathway to immunotherapy, aimed at desensitising the immune system to allergens over time.

Lifestyle tips you can suggest to help combat the effects of seasonal allergy include regular cleaning of living spaces to reduce indoor allergens such as dust, mould and pet hair. Air purifiers can also work in trapping allergens effectively within the home. Keeping windows and doors closed can help to prevent allergens from entering the home – as tempting as letting in the fresh air can be, it could be causing more damage than good. Using air conditioning with a clean filter to circulate filtered air can help as an alternative.

Make sure your customers are aware of the daily pollen forecasts in the area by pointing them to websites or apps they can use to track the data. You could even post a daily pollen count in your pharmacy and display this near the allergy product section to inform your customers. This may come in handy when planning any outdoor activities or excursions.

For those spending time outdoors, handy tips to inform your customers about include wearing sunglasses to shield the eyes from pollen and a wide brimmed hat to help prevent pollen from settling in the hair. A change of clothes and showering after being outdoors is another tip to suggest for removing any pollen that may have settled.

While spring allergies can be bothersome, they don’t have to curtail the enjoyment of spring. By advising our customers to take appropriate precautions, and about how to combat the seasonal allergy issues, along with recommending the best aids to help relieve any symptoms, we can minimise the impact of allergens and fully embrace the beauty and vitality that spring brings.

By Ashleigh Hutson, Retail Manager, Wizard Pharmacy Casuarina, Darwin.