A wide range of treatments for allergies are available, ranging from treatment regimens which are designed to eliminate allergies or radically decrease sensitivity to allergens to drugs used to manage the symptoms of allergies to keep patients comfortable. A doctor can provide specific advice based on the nature and severity of a patient's allergies. Because allergies are so variable, treatment usually needs to be tailored to the patient to be effective.
Many treatments for allergies focus on either dampening the immune response, or managing the symptoms of allergies. Several prescription medications are designed to specifically block the mechanisms which trigger allergies, such as hay fever medications which allow people to enjoy the outdoors without experiencing allergy symptoms. Allergy medications can also include corticosteroids which block inflammation, antihistamines to mitigate immune system responses, and decongestants to help people with allergies breathe more easily. Other treatments for allergy symptoms can include nasal sprays to clear the nose and skin creams to resolve breakouts caused by allergies.
For extreme allergies, patients may be prescribed an epi pen, a syringe of epinephrine which can be injected by the patient if he or she is exposed to an allergen. Other treatments for allergies include allergy shots and desensitization, which are designed to reduce a patient's sensitivity to allergens over time so that he or she will not react to them. Allergy shots are not available for all allergens, but when they are an option for a patient, they can radically improve quality of life.
Avoidance is another treatment for allergies. If an allergen can be easily avoided, avoidance is often the most cost-effective method of managing allergies, as the patient will not require treatment if he or she is not exposed to the allergen. Treatments for allergies can also include a number of natural remedies which are designed to reduce symptoms. Natural treatments for allergies should be carefully evaluated before they are used, and it is a good idea to consult a doctor before starting a natural allergy treatment regimen, adding natural treatments to conventional medications, or ceasing the use of conventional medications to focus on a natural treatment plan for allergies.
When considering treatments for allergies, patients may want to ask their doctors about the long term costs of the treatment, the common side effects, and the effectiveness of the treatment. They should also consider issues like potential drug interactions, and the overall improvement in quality of life which will occur on allergy medication. For example, if a medication allows someone to be outdoors during hay fever season but it makes the patient very tired, the patient may feel that this is not an acceptable tradeoff.
The best over-the-counter allergy medicine is one that will relieve your symptoms and allow you to breathe easier. You can choose from prescription or over-the-counter remedies. Also consider how you want to administer the medication; some of the allergy medications come in different forms such as nose sprays or pills. If choosing over-the-counter drugs, they should act fast and be long-lasting to help you feel well quickly.
One type of over-the-counter allergy medicine is an antihistamine. This medicine is designed to block histamines, the substance in your sinuses that gets released when you inhale an allergen. Histamines are responsible for the blood vessels swelling in your eyes and nose, which causes the irritation and itchiness associated with allergies. An antihistamine medication will block the histamine and help with allergy symptoms.
A decongestant is another type of over-the-counter allergy medicine. Once you inhale an allergen, it causes a good amount of mucus and other fluids to be present in the sinus cavities. Decongestants are used to lessen the fluid, which will make you feel less pressure in the nose and face. You may be able to breathe better once the decongestant clears some of the mucus from the airflow as well.
Antihistamines and decongestants are often used together to get the maximum amount of allergy relief. Both of these medications are known to have side effects. Antihistamines may cause drowsiness while decongestants could cause insomnia. Decongestants are also not recommended for people with high blood pressure. It is important to read all the side effect warnings on the medicine package before taking it.
Over-the-counter allergy medicine can come in pills, liquid forms and nose or eye drops. Many antihistamines are packaged as pills or tablets because they are designed for long-term use. Decongestants are usually used for just a few days and come in nose sprays and liquid. It may be a matter or preference of which kind of OTC medications you use. Some may work better for certain people.
The cost of over-the-counter allergy medicine can be high. Since you do not need a prescription, most health insurance companies will not help to cover cost. Brand name OTC drugs can be higher than a generic version of the same medication.
Even though you do not need a prescription, it may be wise to talk with your doctor about OTC allergy medicines if you use them frequently. You still have to be careful when mixing different OTC drugs, as it could cause a reaction. If you suffer from allergies often, your doctor may decide to prescribe a stronger allergy medication.