Answers for Pilots: Hay fever

What meds can you take?

September 1, 2008

Are you one of the millions of people who sneeze their way through hay fever season, putting up with the itching and sniffing from mid-August until the first frost? The symptoms are mild, you say, and don’t slow you down, but they can be irksome. However, because you plan to fly, you don’t take any allergy medication for fear of using one that the FAA does not allow.

AOPA maintains a database of hundreds of medications used to treat various conditions and includes information on whether the drug is FAA-allowed. The list of meds for hay fever, more properly called allergic rhinitis, includes about 20 commonly used drugs, many of which are available without a prescription.

Some of the medications, such as Claritin and Alavert, are FAA-allowed as long as there are no adverse side effects. Other medications require the pilot to wait to fly for a certain amount of time after use—12 hours for Actifed and 24 hours for Drixoral.

Still others, such as Allegra and Singulair, require a status report from your treating physician indicating no adverse side effects. Then, there are some allergy medications that are not allowed at all, and you may be surprised to know they include Benadryl, Astelin, Durahist, and AlleRx.

If your doctor prescribes one of the allergy medications that requires a status report, ask for the report before your FAA physical examination and bring it with you to your AME. The AME can issue your airman medical certificate at the time of the exam as long as the symptoms are controlled, the medication is acceptable to the FAA, and you are having no adverse side effects.

With the variety of allergy medications available, you do have some choices of FAA-allowed medications that do a pretty good job of controlling hay fever symptoms.

AOPA has an extensive online database of medications and information on what the FAA allows and doesn’t allow. Check out AOPA’s medication database online to make an educated selection.

If you have questions, call the AOPA Medical Specialists at 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time.

Membership Q&A

Q: How can I increase my chances of winning AOPA’s sweepstakes airplane?

A: You can enroll in our convenient Automatic Annual Renewal program and get two additional entries into the 2008 AOPA Get Your Glass Sweepstakes. When you enroll, you’ll also save $4 off this year’s membership dues if it’s your first time enrolling in the program, and $2 off every year after that if you use your AOPA credit card. With a quick call to our Member Services Center, you can join the more than 170,000 members who no longer receive renewal notices in their mailboxes and who are helping AOPA save money that can be used for important efforts like our battle against user fees.

Q: I’d like to enroll my spouse as an AOPA member, but we really don’t need two AOPA Pilot magazines. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Your spouse, or any member of your family who lives in your household, can join AOPA through a family membership. The family member gets access to all of AOPA’s benefits, products, and services, but they won’t receive a monthly magazine or a print version of the AOPA Airport Directory. Annual family membership dues are $19 per person.

Q: Where is the annual AOPA Expo being held this year?

A: November 6 through 8, AOPA members from around the world will gather in San Jose, California, to see the latest in GA technology, attend educational seminars, climb into the latest models of aircraft, and socialize and network with other AOPA pilots and the AOPA staff. To view the impressive list of exhibitors for this year’s show and get all the details you need to attend, visit our Web site.

Member Services contact information:

Phone: 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672), 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday

After hours: Renew your membership, reset your Web password or enroll in Automatic Annual Renewal using our self-service touch-tone phone option.

E-mail: memberservices@aopa.org

Web: Update your personal information, renew your membership and much more by clicking on Manage My Membership on the Membership Services Web site.

Kathy Dondzila

Kathy Dondzila | Manager, Technical Communications, Pilot Information Center

Technical Communications Manager, Kathy Dondzila, joined AOPA in 1990 and is an instrument-rated private pilot.