Why It’s Never Too Early to Prepare for Seasonal Allergies

Mar 15, 2023


Alto Pharmacy

The time to prepare for seasonal allergies is earlier than you might expect, as taking medications before everything is in bloom can help significantly to control symptoms. This year, you may want to consider ramping up your prevention efforts even earlier than usual: one consequence of climate change and rising temperatures worldwide is a longer growing season and higher levels of pollen in the air.

The commonly used over-the-counter (OTC) medications below can help make allergy season more manageable — and many are available for purchase at the Essentials Store in our app! To browse the selection, tap the "Store" icon along the bottom of the Alto mobile app or the "Store" icon in your account on desktop.

Over-the-counter allergy medications to take preventatively


Nasal corticosteroid sprays prevent inflammation to reduce allergy symptoms such as stuffiness, sneezing, and a runny nose. Common OTC options include:

  • Nasacort® (triamcinalone)

  • Flonase® (fluticasone)

  • Rhinocort® (budesonide)

When taken in advance, these medications can potentially prevent the onset of allergy symptoms altogether. Many health experts suggest taking them about four weeks before the official start of allergy season, the specific timing of which depends on where you live.

For many people who experience seasonal allergies, symptoms typically first appear when trees start to release pollen in late winter and early spring. However, this pattern is changing as winter temperatures rise, and the timing of pollination also varies by region. To make the best plan, check local pollen levels and consult with your provider.


These medications block histamine, a chemical that your immune system releases during an allergic reaction. You may take them up to two weeks before the start of allergy season, as a preventative measure, but they can also be taken on an as-needed basis if you experience symptoms. They offer fast relief, taking anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours to go into effect.

Some antihistamines, including Benadryl® (diphenhydramine), can cause drowsiness and are not recommended to take before driving or other activities that require your attention.

The following antihistamines are less likely to cause drowsiness:

  • Zyrtec® (cetirizine)

  • Clarinex® (desloratadine)

  • Allegra® (fexofenadine)

  • Alavert®, Claritin® (loratadine)

  • Xyzal® (levocetirizine)

Not all allergy medications can be taken preventatively. While decongestants like Afrin® (oxymetazoline) and Sudafed® (pseudoephedrine) are effective at relieving congestion, they should only be taken on a short-term basis. Longer-term use may worsen allergy symptoms.

When to see a specialist for allergy symptoms

Remember that it may take time and a bit of trial and error to find the best relief for your allergies. If you experience regular symptoms after exploring a few options, work with your provider to find the best solution for your needs.

You may benefit from consulting a specialist such as an allergist or immunologist. These healthcare professionals can help identify more specific allergy triggers. They can also facilitate even more treatment options, including a preventative treatment called immunotherapy, which exposes you to allergens so that you become less sensitive to them. Immunotherapy comes in the form of both allergy shots and sublingual tablets placed beneath the tongue.

Stock up on allergy medications at the Alto Essentials Store

Purchase allergy season essentials like Claritin, Flonase, Zyrtec, Allegra and more right from your Alto account! You can order Essentials products whenever you need them, or add them to your next prescription delivery.

If your allergy symptoms persist even after preventative steps and exploring OTC options, we can support your treatment plan. We’ll coordinate with your doctor and insurance to offer your medications at the best price we can find, and our expert pharmacists are available via in-app messaging to answer any questions you may have about symptoms or side effects.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

All third party trademarks (including logos and icons) referenced by Alto Pharmacy remain the property of their respective owners. Unless specifically identified as such, Alto’s use of third party trademarks does not indicate any relationship, sponsorship or endorsement between Alto and the owners of these trademarks.

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