Allergy Ailments: How to Survive Allergy Season

April showers might bring May flowers, but they also deliver flowers of their own– complete with sneezing, sniffling, and other allergy symptoms. Although the pollen may be tracked in on your shoes, hair, and clothes, you can take steps to combat the allergy symptoms. Are you looking to survive allergy season? You’ve come to the right place! Learn about different types of medicines, how to head to the allergist and when you should, and different types of over the counter medications that you can take to manage your symptoms, avoid the worst of them, and live as allergy-free as possible!

Medicine to the Rescue

With allergy medicine you have a few options– you can head to your allergist or family doctor to get a prescription for some specialized medications or take some over the counter solutions. Start with over-the-counter medicines and then move on to an allergist if you feel like you need to. Ultimately, what you decide upon is your choice, and there are tons of options out there in so many forms! From eye drops, nasal sprays, inhaled versions, and your traditional pills, there is sure to be a solution that you feel right about using.

Severe Allergies

If you decide to go the prescription route, there are a few steps you need to take before you can get allergy relief. If you experience chronic allergy symptoms for a few months out of the year that leads to sinus infections, over-the-counter options lead to unmanageable symptoms, or they don’t seem to help, and especially if you have asthma or experience any symptoms of asthma. All these signs are definite indicators that you should see your allergist for the best preventative care and the best symptom management.

What Type of Prescription Medications Exist?

If you decide to go the allergist route, your allergist can prescribe a range of different medications in all sorts of forms. Some of the most common include Patanase, a nasal spray, Zetonna, another nasal spray for people who don’t like the feeling of liquid in the back of your throat, and Qvar, an inhaler. All three of these medications work in different ways and have different side effects. Be sure to work with your doctor or allergist to find the medicine that is right for you and be sure to tell your allergist or doctor any other medications that you take!

Over-the-Counter Heroes

Over-the-counter medications are also excellent as a first step to treating allergies. They come in pills, sprays, and liquid medicines. Some significant categories include antihistamines, decongestants, immunotherapy, eye drops, and leukotriene modifiers. To learn about each of these categories, how they work, and the over-the-counter and prescription options, read on!


Antihistamines work by blocking histamines, a chemical that is released when you have an allergic reaction. Antihistamines can be used to treat allergy symptoms, like congestion, a runny nose, itchy nose, sneezing, hives, itchy eyes and similar cold symptoms. They can also be used to treat anxiety, motion sickness, and insomnia! Most antihistamines are available over the counter, with some being prescription. There are two main types of antihistamines available– older “first generation” and the newer, “second generation” models.

Over-the-Counter Antihistamines

If you are looking for a medication to take to treat your allergy symptoms, over-the-counter antihistamines are your best bet. They are available in pills, syrups, nasal sprays, and other forms. Older, first-generation antihistamines, like Benadryl (which comes in creams, syrups, pills, and dissolvable tablets,) are a great first place to start. Newer antihistamines, like Allegra, and Zyrtec, are great second stops. Allegra and Zyrtec are effective in twice a day, 60mg doses or three 60mg pills once a day with a glass of water.

Side Effects of Antihistamines

Antihistamines do have some side effects, however. They aren’t wonder drugs. Side effects of antihistamines include drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, agitation, dizziness, and others. If any of these symptoms are severe, persist for longer than you are taking the drug, or if you lose consciousness, please seek medical attention. Antihistamines also interact with some medications, like some antidepressants, MAOIs and alcohol. Take care when using these medications with antihistamines.


Decongestants shrink blood vessels, reducing the swollen linings in the nose– releasing the congestion and making your nose not swell! Decongestants can’t help with sneezing or itching. If you mix decongestants with antihistamines, decongestants can prove to be great combination! Decongestants are usually mixed with antihistamines, and bear the denotation -D, like Allegra-D.

Over-the-Counter Decongestants

If you are looking for a decongestant, it might be a bit harder to find than an antihistamine. Some decongestants like those that contain pseudoephedrine are available behind the counter for purchase in limited amounts. They come in pills, liquid, nose drops, and nasal sprays. Common decongestants that you can buy over-the-counter include Sudafed, Afrin, and others. Silfedrine, which contains pseudoephedrine, is something that you can buy from the pharmacist.

Side Effects of Decongestants

Decongestants also have side effects. Nasal sprays, which you shouldn’t use for more than three days, have some side effects. Stinging, burning, high blood pressure, seizures, anxiety, and others. If you use decongestants, try to limit your use to the smallest time possible, and avoid using it during pregnancy, if possible.

Did you have any unanswered questions about allergy medications, or have any personal recommendations of medicines or allergists for your fellow readers to try? Let us know in the comments below!

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