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What Are My Allergy Treatment Options?

What Medicines Can I Take to Help Relieve my Symptoms?

Antihistamines

Antihistamines help reduce the sneezing, runny nose and itchiness of allergies. They're more useful if you use them before you're exposed to allergens.

Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness and dry mouth. Others are less likely to cause these side effects, but some of these require a prescription. Ask your doctor which kind is best for you.

Decongestants

Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine help temporarily relieve the stuffy nose of allergies. Decongestants are found in many medicines and come as pills, nose sprays, and nose drops. They are best used only for a short time. Nose sprays and drops shouldn't be used for more than 3 days because you can become dependent on them. This causes you to feel even more stopped-up when you try to quit using them.

You can buy decongestants without a doctor's prescription. However, decongestants can raise your blood pressure, so it's a good idea to talk to your family doctor before using them, especially if you have high blood pressure.

Nasal Sprays

Cromolyn sodium is a nasal spray that helps prevent the body's reaction to allergens. Cromolyn sodium is more helpful if you use it before you're exposed to allergens. This medicine may take 2 to 4 weeks to start working. It is available without a prescription.

Nasal steroid sprays reduce the reaction of the nasal tissues to inhaled allergens. This helps relieve the swelling in your nose so that you feel less stopped-up. They come in nasal sprays that your doctor may prescribe. You won't notice their benefits for up to 2 weeks after starting them.

Steroid Pills

Your doctor may prescribe steroid pills for a short time or give you a steroid shot if your symptoms are severe or if other medicines aren't working for you.

Eye Drops

If your other medicines are not helping enough with your itchy, watery eyes, your doctor may prescribe eye drops for you.

What are Allergy Shots?

Allergy shots (also called immunotherapy) contain small amounts of allergens. They're given on a regular schedule so that your body gets used to the allergens and no longer overreacts to them.

Allergy shots are only used when the allergens you're sensitive to can be identified and when you can't avoid them. It takes a few months to years to finish treatment, and you may need to have treatments throughout your life.