Allergies: the Body’s Way of Fighting Back
Usually, when our body senses danger, the immune system kicks in to protect the body from harm. Allergies, however, are an abnormal response to an otherwise innocuous stimulux`s. Irritants such as pollen, hay, dust, etc. are identified as dangerous, and the process of inflammation begins. Allergy medications worldwide, including Ontario, are either over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription. The comparison of the two is discussed later.
Why Some People and Not Others?
The tendency to develop allergies is hereditary, there are certain genes in the body that predispose an individual to develop any allergy at some point in their life.
What Kind of Allergy Do I Have?
Quite often it is difficult to put a finger on what the causative agent may be. Your doctor may ask you to keep an eye out for when the symptoms manifest and what you think might have caused them. There are numerous different kinds of allergy, it is difficult to list down all these types, as an allergic reaction can occur in response to anything, that makes everything in this world, a potential allergen. The common ones are:
- Drugs: Certain antibiotics can cause an allergic reaction, like penicillin.
- Food: Wheat, milk, and egg allergies are common
- Insects: Bee and mosquito stings can cause such a reaction.
- Seasonal allergies: Also known as hay fever, have now become the most common type of allergy.
Any of these reactions, if severe enough, can become life-threatening and are labeled as an emergency. This is called “anaphylaxis”.
The Big Question: Do I Need a Prescription?
With the advancement in science, allergy medicine and pills in Ontario that were previously prescription-only drugs are now available over-the-counter (OTC), however there’s a sea of such available medications and it can be difficult to choose from them. Furthermore, for those who experience crippling allergy symptoms that can go on for days such as sneezing, post-nasal dripping, runny nose, nasal congestion, and itching; the last thing on their mind is what medication they should use. The following discussion can help you decide what medication may suit you best. It is important to note that it is best to discuss this with your Online doctor Visit.
OTC Vs Prescription: What Is the Difference?
OTC medications are usually used for treating mild symptoms, for this reason, they tend to be less concentrated, whereas prescription drugs are used to eradicate severe symptoms and are stronger. For example, mild skin reactions can be treated with 1% Hydrocortisone available OTC, whereas if this reaction is extensive, your doctor can prescribe a stronger version of it i.e., 2.5%. Additionally, the effect of OTC drugs can be seen within a few hours as opposed to prescription drugs which may take days to start working.
What Are My Options?
Antihistamines: Perhaps the most frequently taken medicines for treating allergies are antihistamines. They work by blocking histamine release from mast cells, thus decreasing inflammation. These drugs are available as:
- OTC: Cetirizine, Loratadine, and Fexofenadine
- Prescription–only: Desloratadine and Azelastine nasal spray
Older OTC drugs can induce drowsiness, while newer versions of both OTC and prescription drugs are free from this side effect.
Decongestants: Usually given in conjunction with antihistamines, they relieve the swelling that occurs in response to an allergen, and thus alleviate symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, and nasal obstruction. They can be administered via the mouth and nose. However, they are contraindicated in people with hypertension and glaucoma. They are available as:
- OTC: Pseudoephedrine, Phenylephrine
Steroids: They work to suppress the immune system and reduce symptoms that occur due to inflammation. They can be administered orally, as nasal sprays, and parenterally, but need to be used long-term for effects to show. They are available as:
- OTC: Budesonide, Fluticasonez
- Prescription: Beclomethasone
Conclusion: Will Prescription Drugs Dominate in the Future?
It is always best to consult a doctor for whichever allergy you are experiencing. Given the fast-paced life many are living, people often opt for OTC drugs to avoid the hassle of doctor consultation. Telemedicine, however, has changed the way medicine is practiced globally. You can simply attend any appointment from the comfort of your home. It is, therefore, considered best to consult with your doctor for what allergy medication you need, which will usually be a prescription one, owing to its long list of merits.
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