Sneezing, congestion, runny nose and itchy eyes: if you’re one of the 50 million Americans affected by nasal allergies, these symptoms are all too familiar. Although there is no cure for nasal allergies, there are a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications that can alleviate symptoms and offer significant relief. The following are different types of medications that can keep allergies under control:
When your body is exposed to allergens, it releases histamine, an inflammatory chemical that attaches to cells and produces allergy symptoms. Antihistamine medications block receptors in the cell membrane to prevent cells from being affected by histamine. Antihistamines can be purchased over-the-counter in the form of pills, liquid, eyedrops and nasal spray. Prescription strength is available for severe symptoms. Antihistamines may cause drowsiness, so read labels carefully and use caution when driving or operating heavy machinery.
Decongestants reduce swelling in the nasal passageways to relieve congestion. They are available as nasal spray, nasal drops, pills and liquids (in drowsy and non-drowsy formulas). Nasal sprays and drops should be used no longer than three days, as extended use can increase inflammation and make symptoms worse.
Corticosteroids ease symptoms by reducing inflammation. They are mostly available by prescription only, and they come in the form of topical creams, ointments, nasal spray, eyedrops, inhalers, pills and liquid.
Mast cell stabilizers
When antihistamines do not provide adequate relief, mast cell stabilizers may be used to block the release of chemicals that produce allergy symptoms. Nasal sprays and eyedrops can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription (Source: Mayo Clinic).
Allergy treatments can offer significant relief from unwelcome allergy symptoms, but be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new medications. Even medications that are available over-the-counter may produce unexpected side effects or interfere with your current prescriptions. Discuss your allergy symptoms with your doctor, and ask about what types of medications will work best for you. As a team, you and your doctor can develop a comprehensive treatment plan that will control your allergies and get you back to enjoying life.