New over-the-counter relief for spring allergies

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LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- Spring allergy season is almost here, and there are new ways to get relief that don't require a prescription from your doctor.

The gray of winter will turn to the green of spring soon, and trees will release pollen that heads straight for our noses. You can head straight to store shelves and find new choices to relieve a runny nose and congestion. Flonase has joined Nasacort as over-the-counter drugs. Pharmacist Ginger Henderson of Price Chopper in Lee's Summit notes one difference between the two nasal steroid sprays.

"Flonase has an extra indication. It will also work on your eye symptoms, so watery eyes, runny eyes," said Henderson.

The pharmacist says if you're not getting enough relief from a non-sedating antihistamine such as Zyrtec, Claritin or Allegra, a nasal spray can safely be used right along with it.

She adds that the sprays are a good alternative for people who don't want the hassle of buying Sudafed which has to be kept behind the pharmacy counter.

Nasacort can be used in children two and up, while Flonase is for those four and up. You shouldn't use Flonase in children for more than two months straight.

"If you go beyond two months and the kids aren't improving, you really should go in and see the doctor. And for adults, the recommendation is six months," said Henderson.

Insurers are still covering the prescription generic of Flonase with low co-pays of five or ten dollars. That's much less than the over-the-counter cost of Flonase.

"People are really trying to fill what they have prescription before that benefit is no longer available," said the pharmacist.

That should happen soon since the drug is over-the-counter. However, Henderson says even though the drug will cost more out-of-pocket, you won't have the cost of a doctor's visit to get a prescription.