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Which Allergy Medicine Is Best for You?

such as dust, pollen,
mold, and pet dander -- are triggering your allergic reaction. Try to clear
those allergens out of your indoor environment, and away from your yard as much
as possible.

If you still have symptoms, it's time to turn to allergy medicines.

Berger explains that the first line of allergy treatment is inhaled nasal
corticosteroids. Inhaled nasal steroids decrease inflammation and reduce mucus
formation, so you have fewer allergy symptoms. 

"You need to start about two weeks before pollen season with the inhaled
nasal corticosteroids," Berger explains, "and possibly stay on the
inhaled allergy medicine for months, if you have ongoing nasal

Are there other allergy medicines that can prevent allergy symptoms?

Consider intranasal (inhaled) antihistamines. These medicines can give
allergy relief of the sneezing and itchy nose without the drowsy feeling you
might get by taking oral antihistamines, Murray Grossan, MD, tells WebMD.

This Los-Angeles based ENT, inventor of the Grossan Hydro Pulse Nasal
Irrigator, and author of The Sinus Cure, says you can also try to
prevent allergy symptoms with over-the-counter nasal sprays that contain mast
cell inhibitors (such as NasalCrom). "These allergy medicines need several
days to give good allergy relief and must be started a few weeks before contact
with allergens."

What about antihistamines or decongestants?

Antihistamines cannot reverse the histamine-charged nasal allergy symptoms,
Berger says. Antihistamines block the receptors -- the tissues that cause
swelling -- to help prevent future symptoms. But they can undo the miserable
allergy symptoms you may be experiencing the moment you take them.

Decongestants, another common allergy medicine, can relieve nasal congestion
and nasal stuffiness. But, again, decongestants relieve existing problems, and
don't prevent congestion.

"It takes several days to reverse any nasal allergy symptoms,"
Berger says, "So preventing allergies is the most effective way to get
allergy relief."

What allergy medicines are available for ongoing allergy relief?

There are many targeted allergy medicines such as antihistamines,
decongestants, steroids, and other anti-inflammatory medicines that can give
you allergy relief. These allergy medicines are delivered in a variety of ways
from oral pills, tablets, capsules, and liquids, to inhaled nasal sprays.
 Some allergy medicines are available by prescription only, while others
are available over-the-counter -- including the newer second-generation,
non-drowsy antihistamines.

Working with your doctor, you can find the type of allergy medicine that's
most effective for allergy relief without causing you uncomfortable side

But what do all these allergy medicines mean to you and your allergy
symptoms? Here's a brief overview of the various types of allergy medicines and
how they work:

Steroid nasal sprays -- Control all allergy symptoms

Decongestants -- Control nasal stuffiness and congestion

Antihistamines -- Control sneezing and drippiness; may relieve
congestion from allergy

Anticholinergics -- Control runny, drippy nose

Mast cell stabilizers -- Prevent nasal congestion before exposure to

Combination allergy medicines -- Prevent nasal allergy and reduce
swelling in stuffy nasal passages

Expectorants -- May thin mucus in the airways so it can be expelled
or drain out

Allergy eyedrops -- Contain various ingredients to help with red,
itchy eyes

If allergy medicines don't work, where can you turn for allergy relief?

If allergy medicines fail to prevent and treat your allergy symptoms, Berger
suggests you see an allergist and consider gtting allergy shots.

Allergy shots or immunotherapy is successful in up to 90% of patients with
seasonal allergic rhinitis and in 70% to 80% with perennial allergic rhinitis.
"And allergy shots (immunotherapy) can prevent allergy symptoms,"
Berger tells WebMD. 

Another reason for checking in with an allergist is you may not have
allergies at all. Berger says many people have "nonallergic rhinitis,"
which are nasal allergy symptoms triggered by weather changes or by variations
in temperatures. Nonallergic rhinitis can have different treatment than
allergic rhinitis (allergies).

For now, don't give up the family pet until you find answers for your
allergy symptoms. You may find out that your furry pet isn't the cause of your
congested nose after all. Talk to your doctor and seek good answers so you can
live allergy symptom free.

By Debra Bruce
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario
©2005-2008 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved

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