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Allergy Medications

The table below lists the most common nasal allergy medications available over the counter. Some come as pills. Others come as a nasal spray. Take only the medications that are part of your treatment plan. For your safety, use medications exactly as directed.

Type of Medication

Description of Medication

Antihistamines

  • Stop histamine from irritating nasal tissue and eyes

  • Help prevent sneezing, runny nose, and itchy and watery eyes

Corticosteroids

(Anti-inflammatories)

  • Help reduce swelling, and relieve itching and sneezing

  • Type of hormone (not the same as anabolic steroids abused by some athletes)

Decongestants

  • Reduce swelling of nasal tissue, opening up air passages and relieving sinus pressure

  • Overuse of certain OTC nasal sprays can cause medication not to work and may even worsen symptoms

Mast cell inhibitors

  • Help prevent cells from releasing histamine

Anticholinergics

  • Help prevent the nose from making too much mucus, relieving runny nose

Saline sprays, rinses, and gels

  • Help soothe and moisturize irritated nasal tissue and clean out mucus and crusting

NOTE: Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about the possible side effects and drug or food interactions of any medication you take. For your safety, let your doctor know if you are taking any other medications or have any known health problems.

How to Use Nasal Spray

Nasal sprays must be used the right way to be effective. Be sure to do the following:

  • Blow your nose to clear your nostrils.

  • Gently shake the bottle. Then remove the cap.

  • With your right hand, carefully insert the tip of the bottle into your left nostril. Make sure to point the tip toward your ear and not the center of the nose.

  • While gently breathing in through your nose, press down once on the pump to release the spray.

  • Breathe out through your mouth.

  • With your left hand, repeat the steps for your right nostril.

Online Medical Reviewer: Emanuel, Ivor A, MD
Last Review Date: 6/19/2012
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.