If you dread allergy season you are not alone – as many as 25% of Canadians suffer from seasonal allergies. For millions of Canadian allergy sufferers, it seems like it’s always allergy season. Any allergy season, but especially an intense one, can overwhelm your immune system. From spring moulds and tree pollens to summer pollens and ragweed, allergy season isn’t just hay fever season in the fall.
For most people, an allergy flare-up is a short-lived nuisance that passes fairly quickly. Talking to a pharmacist to get a recommendation for the most effective over the counter remedy for your particular symptoms is an effective coping strategy.
However, for some sufferers an intense allergic reaction may not be relieved by over-the-counter allergy medication. If your allergies cause you to cough or wheeze, your allergies may turn into asthma or an upper-respiratory illness such as bronchitis or a sinus infection. These can set off severe consequences such as a major asthma attack.
When over-the-counter allergy medication doesn’t work, talk to your doctor
When over the counter medications just aren’t cutting it to treat your allergies, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor. Keep track of your symptoms, when you use your medications and how much you use. This will help your doctor figure out what works best. You might need to try a few medications to determine which are most effective and have the least bothersome side effects for you.
Your doctor can prescribe allergy medications that can go a long way to make you feel better. Here’s a summary of some of the allergy medications*, why they’re used and what their out of pocket cost**.
Antihistamines and Corticosteroid pills
Antihistamines block histamine, a symptom-causing chemical released by your immune system during an allergic reaction. You may be prescribed pills or liquids to ease a runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, hives, swelling, and other signs or symptoms of allergies.
Prescription allergy medications are usually more expensive than over-the-counter medications. They may cost on average $20 to $110 to fill your prescription at the pharmacy. Oral corticosteroids like prednisone are used to treat severe symptoms caused by all types of allergic reactions. You may need a high dosage to kick your symptoms. Your doctor might even advise you to take a combination of oral medication and nasal spray or eye drops.
Nasal sprays and eye drops
Prescription antihistamine nasal sprays help relieve sneezing, itchy or runny nose, sinus congestion, and postnasal drip. Just one spray bottle can cost $50. Antihistamine eye drops help itchy, red, swollen eyes. Corticosteroid eye drops can provide relief when other interventions don’t work. Prescription eye drops cost between $20 and $50.
Inhaled corticosteroids, or inhalers, are often used every day to treat asthma symptoms. If you do use an inhaler, make sure you keep it with you at all times and use it at the first sign of an asthma attack. Each inhaler can cost $20 to $80 out of pocket.
High potency creams may be prescribed to relieve allergic skin reactions such as itching, redness or scaling. A tube of prescription cream can cost $10 to $30.
Allergen immunotherapy injections
Immunotherapy might be used when other treatments aren’t effective or tolerated. It may be given as a series of injections, usually one or two times a week or an allergy-based tablet that dissolves under your tongue. Injections can cost $30 a vial.
Epi-Pen emergency epinephrine shots
Epinephrine shots are used to treat anaphylaxis, a sudden, life-threatening reaction. The drug is administered with a self-injecting syringe or auto-injector. It costs approximately $120 for a single, potentially life-saving auto-injector of epinephrine.
Do your children have allergies too?
According to the Breathe Easy guide by Asthma Canada, no one is born with an allergy, but you can have a genetic tendency to develop one. If both you and your spouse have allergies, your children have about a 75% chance of also developing them.
What is a sign that a child has seasonal allergies? They’re rubbing their eyes and they’re rubbing their nose. In fact they may push their nose so much that you will be able to see a little crease on it!
Children who have allergies can feel quite miserable, and their symptoms can keep them from being able to concentrate in school or while participating in extracurricular activities.
Most children with seasonal allergies will sound stuffy and congested. You might also notice that your child is eating with their mouth open because they can’t breathe through their nose effectively. If it is severe, they may feel short of breath and cough a lot.
If your child is having allergy symptoms all of the time, be proactive and seek medical treatment so they can focus on school instead of their runny nose and sneezing all day long.
Prescription remedies are covered by your health and dental insurance
Most prescription allergy drugs are not covered by your government health coverage. Most specialty provincial drug programs only cover the cost of allergy shots for severe allergy symptoms.
If you or a family member needs prescriptions to manage severe or chronic allergies you will be faced with hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket prescription expenses every year. Having a family member with severe allergies or anaphylaxis can be financially draining. Most seasonal allergies are a chronic condition that require long term management and result in year after year expenses.
That’s where health insurance can help come to the rescue.
Health insurance plans that can help cover a variety of prescription allergy medications, treatments and more. You can choose the plan that most closely reflects your needs and budget and one that protects just you or you and your family.
Health and dental insurance plans are designed to help protect you against routine and unexpected expenses including prescription allergy medications and treatments, eyeglasses, dental care and more.*
A health insurance plan can help cover out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs that you and your family need, and take care of other health care expenses like:
- Dental care
- Vision care
- Massage Therapy
- Travel medical
- Hospital accommodation
Start your medication regimen early and be prepared with health insurance
If you know you experience allergies each year, start your allergy regimen about a month before your specific allergy season starts. That way any medication has a chance to get into your system and start working before the season starts.
And don’t let medication costs stand in the way of your good health. Prescription medication is an important part of many people’s lives for every season. Having an insurance plan that helps pay for the cost of prescriptions and more can make life a little easier.
Want to ask a question or talk to an expert so you can put your individual health insurance plan in place? At SBIS, we are ready to help. Give us a call today at 1-800-667-0429 Monday to Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. ET.
**Source: PocketPills Medication Price Search https://www.pocketpills.com