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Seasonal Allergy Relief Guidelines

Some students know that a certain time every year they have itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose. For others it is hard to tell when the symptoms are allergic or part of a viral upper respiratory infection. Below is information on how to take care of yourself and when you should seek medical attention.


What you Should Know


If your eyes are itchy and you are waking up with crusting and daytime watering, it may be allergies. Avoid rubbing your eyes - it creates stys and a host of problems. Wash your eyes with cold water to get rid of any crusting. If you have redness and a purulent (pus like discharge) you might need further medical evaluation. Over the counter, Zatidor (ketotifen) is helpful for allergic eye irritation. Prescription steroid nasal sprays (used in the nose) also have been shown to alleviate eye symptoms. Over the counter antihistamines are also helpful and most students prefer non-sedating ones like: Allegra (fexofenadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine). Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is sedating, and Claritin (loratadine) alleviates more mild allergy symptoms. It may take a few days to see relief of symptoms and these medications should be taken at night.

Seek medical attention if: you have eye pain, vision changes, or redness of the eyelids; if the allergy tablets or drops are not helpful, or if you have pain under or above your eye - it could be a sinus infection.


Runny noses and sneezes are mostly annoying. Often health providers cannot sort out if this is viral or allergic. If the runny nose is paired with itchy eyes it is more likely to be allergic. If the nasal drainage is associated with a cough, body aches, low grade temperatures, or a sore throat it is more likely viral. Nasal symptoms often respond to the over-the-counter antihistamines above as well as astelin nasal spray. Other students use decongestants like pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine but these can cause a dry throat or insomnia. Afrin (oxymetazoline) can help with symptoms but should be used for no more than three days.

Seek medical attention if: you have pus or honey-colored crusting on your nose (impetigo). Some students with severe allergy symptoms need to be on nasal steroids like Flonase (fluticasone). Make an appointment if you think that you might need nasal steroids.


Seek medical attention if your allergic symptoms are associated with breathing difficulties. If you have severe breathing difficulties an urgent care clinic or emergency department may be your best option or call 911.

Final Note

Some students need a comprehensive plan for their seasonal allergies including allergy testing and desensitization shots. SHAC can refer students to an allergist if needed. Health Services does not administer intramuscular steroid shots for seasonal allergies due to the risks of steroids outweighing the benefits.