How Do Allergy Medications Work?

Individuals who suffer from chronic allergy have a difficult time in leading normal lives. They need to take allergy medications to relieve the associated allergy symptoms. Actually the best medication for an allergy is prevention, but this is not always the case, especially if the allergen is unknown.

Points to keep in mind when taking allergy medication

  • Take allergy medication only under a doctor’s supervision since many of these drugs have side effects.
  • Always exercise great caution when taking over the counter drugs. Check out for harmful interactions with other medication that you might be taking.
  • Complete the entire prescribed dose of the medicine; else it will prove ineffective in future.
  • Another important factor in allergy medication is the cost. It can prove costly for a chronic sufferer, but is a necessity.

Types of allergy medication

  • Anti histamines help reduce the effect of histamine that causes an allergic reaction. It is best to take this before exposure to an allergen. It gives relief from itching, running nose and sneezing. It may result in drowsiness and dryness in the mouth. They are available as nasal sprays for allergic rhinitis and as eye drops to relieve itching eyes. You can buy them over the counter and with a prescription. The doctor may prescribe them along with decongestants.
  • Nasal sprays containing saline rid the sinuses of the allergens. Nasal sprays with cromolyn sodium helps minimize allergic symptoms. Nasal sprays become effective only a month after you start taking them. They reduce swelling associated with allergic rhinitis. Nedocromil sodium spray gives relief to asthma patients.
  • Decongestants relieve nasal congestion and improve drainage. They reduce inflammation and come in the form of sprays, drops or pills. Taking decongestants regularly can make you dependent on them without a feeling of relief. Moreover long term use can result in high blood pressure and make you nervous. You can take pills and drops safely for a longer time. Some eye drops may contain decongestants to relieve redness associated with conjunctivitis. Avoid them if you have glaucoma or hypertension.
  • Corticosteroids reduce swelling and itching that accompanies an allergic reaction. They are available as nasal sprays for rhinitis and sinusitis. Topical creams are available to treat hives and insect bites. People with asthma may use inhaled corticosteroids. Short term use leads to weight gain and fluid retention. Prolonged use can result in diabetes, osteoporosis and cataracts.
  • Mast cell stabilizers reduce swelling of the bronchial tubes. They are available as inhalers for asthma, eye drops for conjunctivitis and nasal sprays for rhinitis. They become effective only a few weeks after taking. Side effects include coughing and skin rashes.
  • Epinephrine is given to patients only in case of a severe anaphylactic reaction. Commonly available as an injection it helps save lives by restoring the blood pressure and heart rate to normal. It is also anti-histamine.
  • Allergy shots are a long term solution ideal for allergic rhinitis. The treatment continues for three to five years, but the results leave you allergy -free for life and are worth trying. However undergo this treatment only under a trained doctor.

The type of medication depends on the individual’s condition and nature of allergy. The doctor may recommend a combination therapy of these drugs. Hence follow up is important when taking allergy medication on a regular basis.