Pollen is the cause of suffering for millions of people around the country in the spring. Pollen is the fine powdery substance that is released by male plants in the spring, to fertilize female plants. Some plants, such as trees, create more pollen than others, which is carried by the wind to the female plants. Others create small amounts of pollen that are transported from plant to plant by bees or birds.
Plants have a period of pollination that occurs around the same time each year. Tree pollination periods often occur in the early spring, grass pollination is often in the late spring and early summer, and weed pollination commonly occurs in the late summer and fall. In warm climates, pollination periods can occur year round.
Why Is Allergy Season so Bad this Year?
Seasonal allergy sufferers have been hit hard this spring. Since the past winter was so long and cold in many places, the trees that normally bloom in the spring have been delayed, so their pollination period has been pushed to a later point in the year than usual. This creates an overlap with other pollens that release in the late spring/early summer, such as grass pollen, causing allergy seasons across the nation to start later and hit harder.
Allergy season can bring the symptoms of seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever. Symptoms of hay fever include watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Itchiness is also common with hay fever, such as itchiness in the nose, throat, eyes, ears, or roof of the mouth. Some people, such as those who have underlying asthma or lung conditions, can experience wheezing in addition to the standard allergy symptoms. These symptoms can be caused by many different types of allergens year round, such as dust or mold. When allergy symptoms occur only in the spring, they are often caused by pollen and referred to as seasonal allergies.
Normally the immune system works to prevent the body from responding to stimuli, such as dust or pollen. However, in those who are allergic to pollen, for example, the cells that make up the immune system think the pollen is an invader, and overreact to its presence in an attempt to remove the allergen from the body, through sneezing, tears, and physical removal of allergens with the hands by itching.
How Can People Find Relief from this Allergy Season?
Allergy sufferers can take several different types of medications to treat allergies, such as antihistamines, nasal steroids, and inhalers for those with underlying asthma. Antihistamines are the gold standard in allergy treatment. There are two different classes of antihistamines, the older, first generation antihistamines, and the newer, second generation antihistamines. The older antihistamines are effective allergy treatments, but are short acting and generally last between 4 to 6 hours. They are known for their side effects of drowsiness, and are occasionally used for sleep as well. The most common older antihistamine is diphenhydramine, also known as Benadryl.
The newer antihistamines were developed to attempt to correct some of the pitfalls of the older antihistamines. The newer antihistamines are often taken only once daily, which is much more convenient dosing than the older medications. They are also much less likely to cause drowsiness, and can be taken at any time of day. They generally work best when they are taken for several days in a row, allowing the body to build up an effect to prevent the pollens and allergens from activating the allergic systems in the body. There are several common newer antihistamines used for seasonal allergies, such as loratadine, the generic form of Claritin, and fexofenadine, the generic form of Allegra.
Nasal treatments can also be used to treat allergy symptoms of nasal congestion and runny nose. Saline nasal rinses can be used to rinse the sinuses and remove allergens from the nasal passages. Nasal steroids are also commonly used to decrease swelling in the sinuses to relieve congestion and help decrease sneezing and runny nose. These medications are sprayed into the nostrils to direct their effect to the nasal passages. Several types of nasal steroids are commonly used, such as fluticasone, the generic form of Flonase, and triamcinolone, the generic form of Nasacort.
Many of these treatments for seasonal allergies are available over the counter without a prescription, such as loratadine and diphenhydramine. When medications are over the counter, they can be purchased without a prescription, but this may not be the cheapest possible option.
When medications are available over the counter, there are still situations where a prescription may be used to purchase the medication. Over the counter medications may not be covered by insurance companies, or may be covered for a higher price than the over the counter version, as many insurance companies would prefer the consumer to buy the medication from the store instead of creating an insurance claim for the medication. This often results in consumers simply buying the medication over the counter, even though this may not be the cheapest possible option.
Don’t Let Allergy Season affect your wallets!
Buying a medication from the pharmacy using a prescription without insurance can be cheaper than purchasing the medication over the counter if the consumer is aware of the discounts available for prescription medications. Discount cards such as the Prescription Discount Card from the Discount Drug Network can decrease the price of a prescription medication that is not covered by a consumer’s insurance company, and can be applied to medications that are purchased from the pharmacy with a valid prescription. Instead of buying the medication without a prescription, using the Prescription Discount Card to lower the price of the medication at the pharmacy can often result in a better deal than buying the over the counter version of the same product.
When shopping for loratadine, the generic form of the antihistamine Claritin, the price difference can be significant if a prescription is used. For example, loratadine 10mg would cost $27.99 for 90 tablets if purchased over the counter from a local CVS/Pharmacy. However, if a prescription is given by the patient’s doctor to the pharmacy for loratadine 10mg, it would only cost $8.57 for a 90 day supply if purchased with a prescription at CVS, using the Prescription Discount Card to lower the price of the medication. This would save the allergy sufferer over $20 for a 90 day supply of loratadine, which would be enough medication to get through nearly the entire spring allergy season!
When processing medications as a prescription, a doctor must sign off on the prescription in order to create a valid prescription. The cost of seeing a doctor may need to be factored into the price of prescription medications, and those without any health insurance may not see a financial benefit in obtaining a prescription from the doctor for their medication. For patients with active health insurance, the possibility of utilizing a prescription for an over the counter item can be discussed with the consumer’s primary care doctor at an annual appointment, for example.
When insurance companies don’t cover medications that have gone over the counter, discount cards such as the Prescription Discount Card from the Discount Drug Network come to the rescue to help patients with high drug costs. Depending on the pharmacy the consumer uses, discounts of 10-85% can be applied to both generic and brand name products. The Prescription Discount Card can be used in place of insurance, and is accepted at over 65,000 pharmacies nationwide.
By using the newly updated Drug Pricing tool, consumers can figure out what their costs will be when using the Prescription Discount Card for a specific product at the pharmacy of their choice before they go to the store. This allows users to compare the discounted price to their insurance copays in order to figure out the lowest price available to them, without even leaving the comfort of their own home. Consumers can also compare prices between pharmacies in their area, as prices can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy.
Since drug prices vary between pharmacies, due to different wholesalers used and contract pricing for specific products, medication prices can vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy. However, with the handy Drug Pricing tool, the consumer can seek out pharmacies that offer the lowest prices for the drug products they take on a regular basis, to ensure they are getting the most out of their drug payments. While it may take a little extra work, the savings can be astounding.
Using the Prescription Discount Card is simple and easy. Consumers can sign up to receive discounts on the Discount Drug Network’s website, discountdrugnetwork.com. After signing up, the pharmacy billing information is given to the consumer, which they can print out and take to any local pharmacy. The discount card information can then be given to pharmacy personnel along with a prescription for processing in order to receive the discount.
The Prescription Discount Card is free for everyone, and can be used in place of insurance if the insurance copay is too high, or if the consumer does not carry prescription insurance. Consumers can easily sign up for the card at discountdrugnetwork.com and order a wallet card to carry this discount with them to use when it is needed most.