Allergy Tips for People with MS

If you are miserable from seasonal allergies, try a couple of these tips

 As I mentioned in my article, Seasonal Allergies and Multiple Sclerosis, this year the seasonal allergies are making me miserable. I don’t know where the line is between my multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms and my allergy symptoms, and frankly, I don’t care – I just want to get the fatigue, tremors, cognitive dysfunction and coughing under control.

Some of the tips that I have compiled to make things just a little easier during high pollen season are probably not news to anyone who has allergies, and are certainly not specific to people with MS.

However, a little reminder might help someone out and alleviate just a little suffering.

Here are some of my tips:

Choose Medications Carefully and Monitor Side Effects

When I wasn’t able to tolerate the allergy symptoms anymore, I went and visited my regular doctor, who offered me an array of drugs to keep the allergies under control. However, I know from a bit of past experience that certain medications make me dizzy or tired.

For instance, an albuterol inhaler (ProAir HFA) can truly help reduce coughing fits, but can also make people (not just those with MS) feel light-headed and jittery for about 30 minutes after use. Some of the different over-the-counter medications, such as Claritin or Zyrtec, can also cause dizziness or drowsiness in certain people (such as myself). It is also known that certain antihistamines can cause the same types of feelings, as I note in my article Antihistamines Can Worsen MS-Related Fatigue.

It is important to know how you react to different medications. Many of these side effects are tolerable, as long as you know what to expect and can plan for it – for instance, I do not drive for half an hour after using my albuterol inhaler. If you don’t know how you will react to a medication, take it when you are at home and preferably when someone is with you.

Don’t rely on a friend’s experience to tell you what to expect – we all react differently and “dizziness” or “confusion” in a person without MS may have much more dramatic effects in those of us who are already a little unstable on our feet or have some MS-related cognitive dysfunction.

Again, many of these medications work well in reducing allergy symptoms and there may be a trade-off in terms of side effects.

Stay Inside

This is kind of obvious, but it did not occur to me that the yellow pollen that had accumulated on the cars would also impact me so dramatically just walking from my car to the grocery store. Some experts say that pollen counts are highest in the middle of the day, while others say it really doesn’t make a difference. I have noticed that early morning is not so bad

Use "The Tag"

Okay, clearly there are times when we have to (or when we just want to) go somewhere. If you know that the pollen or pollution is particularly bad, do not hesitate to use your disabled placard (aka "handicapped tag").

If you don't have one, get one. (For more information, read Get a Handicapped Parking Placard.)

Wash It Off and Out

This one probably seems obvious, but I didn't think of it until I looked down at my black shirt one day and saw yellow patches of pollen. I changed clothes and took a shower and immediately felt much better. Other days, I have used a neti pot to rinse out my nasal passages, which also helps. 

Look to Alternative Medicine

I was skeptical (but desperate) when I bought a homeopathic allergy remedy that the clerk in the health food store "promised" would help. I was shocked when it actually did clear the fog and allow me to breathe. I tried it on my husband and daughter with the same effect. I am convinced it works (anyway, as my husband says, "Even if we are just feeling better because of the placebo effect, do you care? It's awesome." The remedy we are using is from Allergena and is particularly created for our zone of the country - they have remedies formulated for all parts of the United States.

Bottom Line: This is just the beginning of some of the tips that you could try to get some relief from seasonal allergies. Again, nothing too original here, but maybe better than trying to "wait it out," especially if allergies last more than a couple of days - after all, those of us with MS do not need anything else making us feel tired or shaky. Good luck to you.

Continue Reading