Allergy Medications (Hold)

Allergies are best treated by eliminating exposure to the allergen. This might include measures to create an allergen-free home that reduces exposure to dust mites or pet dander. However, this may not be feasible for those with pollen, mold, and other allergens.

There are fortunately a variety of allergy medications available that can provide safe and effective control of allergy symptoms for many people.


Antihistamines help to control the itching caused by allergies. They block the histamine that leads to swelling and itch. Antihistamines are most effective when started before peak allergy season or at the earliest signs of allergy symptoms.

Oral antihistamines offer the benefit of treating allergy symptoms throughout the body, including the skin. However, if symptoms are confined to one area, it may be helpful to use a medication that targets only that area. For instance, those with eye allergies may benefit from the use of antihistamine eye drops.

Drowsiness is a common side effect of common over-the-counter antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheneramine.

Non-sedating antihistamines (Allegra®, Claritin®, Clarinex®, Xyzal®, Zyrtec®) are available, but they are more expensive and some insurers may not reimburse the cost for these medications if other less expensive medicines have not been attempted first.

Nasal corticosteroid sprays

These are an effective alternative to antihistamines for those with itching, runny nose and other symptoms of allergic rhinitis. When used regularly, nasal corticosteroid sprays control allergic rhinitis symptoms better than oral antihistamines. If the sprays irritate the nasal passages, it may be helpful to use a nasal saline spray afterwards, or use a nasal spray that is formulated in a water-based (aqueous, or AQ) spray.

Nasal corticosteroids include budesonide (Rhinocort®) and beclomethasone (Vancenase®, Beconase®).

Cromolyn Nasal Spray

Cromolyn nasal spray (Nasalcrom®), which does not require a prescription, may also be used to control symptoms of nasal allergies. It causes the least amount of irritation and other side effects. However, it works only when taken before exposure to an allergen, so cromolyn nasal spray must be used before very predictable allergy exposures (staying at a friends with a pet) or used on a regular schedule (several times a day).

Anthistamine Nasal Spray

Antihistamine nasal spray, such as Astelin® (azelastine), is available by prescription. It may be recommended to avoid use of oral antihistamines.


Decongestants may be used for immediate relief of nasal congestion that occurs with allergic rhinitis. Oral decongestants include phenylephrine (Sudafed® PE) and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®). Nasal decongestants, formulated as a nasal spray, include oxymetazoline (Afrin®).

Nasal sprays are intended for short-term relief only. They can result in increased nasal congestion if used for more than three days without a break.

Side effects from oral decongestants can include insomnia, high blood pressure, and a racing heart rate. Consult your health-care provider before using these medications if you have high blood pressure, a history of stroke, or heart disease.

Source: Vivacare
Last updated : 1/8/2019

Allergy Medications (Hold) originally published by Vivacare