• Reviewed on 12/11
    By Dr. Milgrom

Allergy: Medications

 

Many different medicines are available to help control allergy symptoms when you can't avoid the things to which you are allergic.

 

Antihistamines

Antihistamines are medicines that block the allergic reaction, and they are available in tablets, syrups and eye drops.

  • Drowsiness as a side-effect: Some over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl® cause drowsiness. Other over-the-counter antihistamines like Claritin® do not cause drowsiness. Newer prescription antihistamines such as Claritin®, Allegra® and Clarinex®, do not cause drowsiness (Zyrtec® may cause drowsiness in some patients).

  • Antihistamine and decongestant combinations: Some allergy medicines are available as a combination of an antihistamine and a decongestant. Allegra-D®, Claritin-D® and Zyrtec-D® help to relieve allergy symptoms plus nasal congestion. If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor before taking any of these.

  • Eye drops: For eye allergy symptoms that don't respond to an antihistamine, check with your doctor about eye drops. There are a number of eye drops that include an antihistamine, decongestant or other anti-allergy treatments. Make sure you don't worsen eye symptoms by rubbing your eyes and exposing them to more pollen.

  • Antihistamines and allergy testing: Antihistamines interfere with allergy testing. Consult your doctor about which medicines you must stop taking before your scheduled allergy tests.

 

Steroids

Steroids work by reducing inflammation and are available only by prescription.

  • Nasal sprays: Several different types of medicines are available as nasal sprays to reduce symptoms of sneezing and a runny nose. Nasal steroid sprays require a prescription and are effective in reducing nasal symptoms triggered by allergies and irritants such as perfume and smoke. Although a nasal decongestant spray doesn't require a prescription, use one with caution. It should be used only for a few days because longer use can cause a "rebound" effect that makes symptoms worse. There are also other types of nasal sprays to reduce symptoms.

  • Topical steroids: For allergic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and hives (urticaria), topical steroids are sometimes prescribed. There can be side effects with long-term use of these medicines, and they should only be used under a doctor's supervision.

 

 

Anti-IgE

A relatively new type of allergy medication is called anti-IgE antibody (omalizumab). These drugs work by preventing the release of histamine.

  • Leukotriene Modifiers: Leukotriene modifiers are long-term control allergic asthma medications and rhinitis medications. They reduce swelling inside the airways and relax smooth muscles around the airways. Leukotriene modifiers are available as tablets. They are effective at improving asthma and rhinitis symptoms but not to the same extent as inhaled steroids.

 

More Allergy Medication Information

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