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Allergy Medications: Over-the-Counter

You can buy many medications to treat allergies that do not need a prescription. Your doctor may advise you to take some of these. You may use them alone or with prescription medication. Your treatment will work better if you use all medications exactly as your doctor tells you. The two most common type of OTC allergy medications are listed below.

Woman and man looking at product labels

Antihistamines

These are the most common kind of medications to treat allergies. They can help stop sneezing and itching and relieve a runny nose. They can be taken in pill form or as a nasal spray. Use either type as instructed by your doctor or on the package. Know that some kinds of pills can make you sleepy.

Nasal tissues and air passages
Decongestants shrink swollen nasal tissues.

Decongestants

These reduce swelling of the nasal tissues and open up your air passages. They relieve pressure in your sinuses. They can be taken in pill form or as a nasal spray. You can use the pills for a few days when you need to. But call your doctor if you need them every day for more than a week. Use nasal spray only when advised by your doctor. Overuse of decongestant nasal spray can make your symptoms worse.

Online Medical Reviewer: Emanuel, Ivor A, MD
Last Review Date: 6/19/2012
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