The start of spring means nasal allergies for many

The start of spring means sniffling and sneezing for many. 

About one out of every seven Americans has nasal symptoms as a result of seasonal allergies. Many over-the-counter medicines and prescriptions are available, but trying to decide between them all can be a headache. 

Now recent guidelines are out to help you figure out which way to go. 

A recent study looked at which treatments are most effective. Researchers looked at whether doctors should prescribe an over-the-counter steroid nasal spray or a combination of a steroid nasal spray and antihistamine medication. 

Based on the evidence, the new recommendation calls for a steroid nasal spray, like Flonase, for example, alone, to be used as a first line of defense.  

"Is it best for initial treatment to take an intranasal steroid alone, or an intranasal steroid combined with anon-sedating antihistamine? And the evidence indicates that an intranasal steroid, alone, is the best option," says Dr. David Lang from Cleveland Clinic. He was a co-author on the research. 

The recommendations apply specifically to the treatment of nasal allergy symptoms for folks ages 12 and up with seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis. 

Dr. Lang said that for someone with moderate to severe symptoms, the research shows that combining a nasal steroid spray along with an antihistamine nasal spray was most effective. 

He points out that using the intranasal antihistamine sometimes causes an unpleasant taste or can sometimes makes people sleepy, so it should be used with caution. He said the good news is that there are effective treatments for seasonal allergy symptoms, so people do not have to suffer needlessly. 

"If you have symptoms, an intranasal steroid, over-the-counter, alone, can be very effective for you."
He adds that steroid nasal sprays are safe and widely used. He says the only side effect to be aware of, is that if you start to experience nosebleeds, you should stop using the spray and consult your doctor. 

Complete results of the study can be found in Annals of Internal Medicine.