Drugs to treat allergy symptoms can be divided into two main categories: over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription.
OTC allergy medications are available without a prescription and are generally safe for most people to take. However, it is important to read the label carefully and follow the instructions. OTC allergy medications can be taken in pill, liquid, nasal spray, or eye drop form.
Common OTC allergy medications include:
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines block the effects of histamine, a chemical that is released by the body during an allergic reaction. This can help to relieve symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and runny nose.
- Decongestants: Decongestants help to open up the airways and relieve nasal congestion.
- Mast cell stabilizers: Mast cell stabilizers prevent mast cells from releasing histamine, which can help to prevent allergic reactions from occurring in the first place.
Prescription allergy medications are typically used for more severe allergies or when OTC medications are not effective. Prescription allergy medications can be taken in pill, liquid, nasal spray, or injection form.
Common prescription allergy medications include:
- Nasal corticosteroids: Nasal corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory medications that can be used to relieve nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose.
- Leukotriene modifiers: Leukotriene modifiers block the effects of leukotrienes, which are chemicals that are involved in the allergic response. This can help to relieve symptoms such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.
- Biologics: Biologics are newer types of allergy medications that target specific parts of the immune system. Biologics are typically used for severe allergies or allergies that do not respond to other treatments.
It is important to talk to your doctor about which allergy medication is right for you. Your doctor can help you to choose a medication that is safe and effective for your individual needs.