written by: K. A. Arbuckle
• edited by: Diana Cooper
• updated: 11/17/2010
What are the best seasonal allergy medications for you? By comparing seasonal allergy medications you can find what works to control your reactions and treat your symptoms.
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Seasonal allergies occur when your body overreacts to a stimulus, or allergen. Pollen is a primary cause of seasonal allergies. When you breath pollen in, your immune system sees it as a threat. In an attempt to rid the body of this threat, symptoms develop, including a runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and sinus pressure. Seasonal allergies can be mild, causing little change in daily life. They can, however, also be severe enough to need medication to function normally. Comparing seasonal allergy medications gives you the best options for treating your symptoms without suffering from side effects or contraindications with other medicine or conditions.
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Comparing Seasonal Allergy Medications
Different types of allergy medication are available. Over the counter medicines, or OTC, can be purchased without a prescription and have a wide range of success in use. Prescription allergy medications will require a visit to your health care provider and may be more costly, depending on your insurance plan and whether a generic version is available. Allergy medication work in a few different ways. Antihistamines work by blocking the bodies reaction, or production of histamines, to the allergen. Corticosteroids treat the inflammation associated with the reaction while blocking the allergens. Decongestants treat the symptoms of nasal or sinus congestion. Other types of medication work to block the chemicals released during a reaction that can cause symptoms. Some people may find that rotating the type of allergy medication may be necessary to relive symptoms.
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OTC Allergy Medications
When making allergy drug comparisons, you will come across OTC choices. In fact, some of the OTC medications were once only available by prescription. OTC antihistamines include loratadine, cetirizine, clemastine, and diphenhydramine. These may cause side effects of drowsiness and dry mouth. Antihistamines are also available as OTC eye drops, such as ketotifen and naphazoline. OTC decongestants can help with symptoms, but should not be a long-term choice because they can cause rebound congestion. Decongestants have several possible side effects, including increased heart rate, lightheadedness, and nervousness. They should not be taken by elderly, pregnant women, or people with high blood pressure or heart disease. Options for OTC decongestants include products containing pseudoephedrine. Some, such as Claritin-D, may also contain antihistamine.
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Prescription Allergy Medications
For severe reactions, the best seasonal allergy medication might be a prescription. There are more options with prescription medication. The side effects for most are the same as for OTC medications, however. You may be prescribed an antihistamine, such as fexofenadine. There are also prescription antihistamine nasal sprays, including azelastine. Decongestants generally do not require a prescription, but corticosteroids do. Corticosteroids can have severe side effects, from causing cataracts, to muscle weakness, to delayed growth in children. They should always be taken under a doctor's supervisions. Options include oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, nasal or inhaled like fluticasone, eye drops, and skin creams. Other prescription allergy medication blocks chemicals, and include montelukast and cromolyn sodium. Side effects can vary greatly and should be considered when comparing seasonal allergy medications.
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MayoClinic.com: Allergy Medications: Know Your Options - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/allergy-medications/AA00037
Cleveland Clinic: Over-The-Counter: Choosing the Right Allergy Medications - http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/allergies/hic_over-the-counter_choosing_the_right_allergy_medications.aspx