Treatment optionsOver-the-counter drugs
If you’re like many people who suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re more than familiar with the sneezing, coughing, running noses and watery eyes that come along with the change of weather. Sometimes, over-the-counter medications are just not enough to relieve the symptoms and that’s when it’s time to talk to your doctor about prescription allergy medications.
Prepare for your appointment
Communicating with your doctor will help you both work together to find an effective allergy medication for you. Make sure to tell your doctor if you’re:
- Currently taking allergy medications
- Pregnant or breast-feeding
- Diagnosed with a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Taking any other medications, including herbal supplements.
Prescription allergy medication options
Your doctor has several effective ways to help control your allergy symptoms that you can’t get over the counter. You should ask your primary care physician or urgent care center about these during your visit.
Immunotherapy shots, also known as allergy shots, have been a form of treatment for more than 70 years. By receiving small quantities of allergens over time, physicians have been able to reduce and potentially stop a person’s allergies.1 Immunotherapy shots are usually given 1 or 2 times a week for 3 to 6 months. This is followed by a series of less frequent maintenance shots that may continue for 3 to 5 years. Side effects may include irration at the injection site and allergy symptoms such as sneezing, congestions or hives.2
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a type of immunotherapy you receive an allergen-based tablet under your tongue. This daily treatment has been shown to reduce runny nose, congestion, eye irritation and other symptoms associated with hay fever. SLIT tablets contain extracts from different types of grass pollen.3
Immunotherapy nasal sprays
Antihistamine nasal sprays help relieve sneezing, itchy or runny nose, sinus congestion and postnasal drip. Side effects of antihistamine nasal sprays may include a bitter taste, drowsiness or fatigue.4 Prescription antihistamine nasal sprays include:
- Azelastine (Astelin®, Astepro®)
- Olopatadine (Patanase®)
Inhaled corticosteroids are often used daily as part of treatment for asthma caused by reactions to allergens. Side effects are generally minor and can include mouth and throat irritation and oral yeast infections. Some inhalers combine corticosteroids with other asthma medications.5 Prescription inhalers include:
- Beclomethasone (Qvar®)
- Budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler®)
- Ciclesonide (Alvesco®)
- Fluticasone (Advair® Diskus, Flovent® Diskus, others)
- Mometasone (Asmanex® Twisthaler)
Corticosteroid eyedrops are used to relieve persistent itchy, red or watery eyes when other medications aren't effective. A physician specializing in eye disorders (ophthalmologist) usually monitors the use of these drops because of the risk of vision impairment, cataracts, glaucoma and infection.6 Examples include:
- Fluorometholone (Flarex®, FML®)
- Loteprednol (Alrex®, LotemaxTM)
- Prednisolone (Omnipred< />, Pred Forte®, others)
- Rimexolone (Vexol®)
Corticosteroid pills and liquids
Oral corticosteroids are used to treat severe symptoms caused by all types of allergic reactions. Long-term use can cause cataracts, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, stomach ulcers, increased blood sugar (glucose) and delayed growth in children. Oral corticosteroids can also make high blood pressure worse.7 Prescription oral corticosteroids include:
- Prednisolone (Flo-PredTM, Prelone®, others)
- Prednisone (Prednisone IntensolTM, Rayos®)
1. “Allergy medications: Know your options,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed September 7, 2018,
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