KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you live in East Tennessee, chances are you suffer from allergies. Sneezing, watery eyes, and that itchy feeling in your ears. It comes with stepping outside to enjoy the beauty of our area. East Tennessee offers the best of what nature has to give, along with all of the pollen that comes along with it.

“Right now the pollen count is really high. There is a lot of tree pollen in the air, as well as grass pollen. Even some weed pollen right now. So there are a lot of people coming in with the itchy nose, runny nose, sneezing, coughing,” says Dr. Nicholas Kolinsky, an allergist with The Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center in Knoxville. He understands the aggravation of trying to treat allergy symptoms.

“There is a lot of different medications out there. Really if you think of it this way on a scale of one to ten, ten being the best, nasal prays are like a seven of an 8, whereas the allergy pills are a two or a three. And really all of these medications kind of do the same thing,” said Kolinsky. 

That’s right, he says turn to nasal sprays first for symptom relief. 

“I think the nasal sprays are the most effective. You can use an oral antihistamine with the nasal spray. But studies show that there’s really no difference between an individual that uses a nasal spray alone versus someone that uses a nasal spray with an oral antihistamine because the nasal sprays are typically so effective. Specifically the nasal corticosteroids,” said Kolinsky. 

Pharmacist, Samantha Boldin, Director of Patient Care Services at Belew Drugs, says choosing your allergy medication also means reading labels and simplifying your choice. “I like to look at products that have single ingredients. That way you’re not taking medications that you don’t need. A lot of the combo cough cold allergy products may have Tylenol in them and too much Tylenol can be dangerous. So that’s something to consider. It’s always a good idea to check with your pharmacist if you’re on other medications because a few of the allergy medications like fexofenadine, which is the active ingredient in Allegra, can interfere with some other medications,” Boldin said.

Once you choose the medicine for you, make sure you are using it correctly.

“There’s a great technique on how to use your nasal spray. A lot of people sniff whenever they use their nasal spray. Don’t do that. If you do that it drags medication to the back of your throat and you actually swallow a lot of it. And then also it kind of closes off some nasal passages as well. So instead just take a light breath in or don’t breathe in at all,” said Kolinsky. 

And last – no matter what you take, you just might need to switch it up.

“And I’ll recommend you take a Zyrtec year-round for allergies before everything blooms April [and] May around here. Maybe switch to something else for a little bit and kind of reduce some of that tolerance because I do feel like he gets some tolerance built up. So maybe switching to Allegra for a couple of weeks and then going back can help sometimes,” said Boldin.

Boldin also said Belew Drugs offers an all-natural supplement for allergy relief, called D-Hist, that has worked well for some customers. 

The path to allergy wellness is trial and error to figure out what works best for you.