These relieve a stuffy nose and congestion. You can get them as liquids, tablets, and sprays, and they're sometimes combined in a single tablet with antihistamines. Claritin-D and Allegra-D are examples of this combo.
How they work: Decongestants narrow blood vessels. This helps relieve swollen tissue in your nose.
Over-the-counter types you take as a pill include:
- Phenylephrine ( Sudafed PE, various store brands)
- Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (Sudafed, various store brands)
Side effects of these can include nervousness, dizziness, or sleeplessness.
Examples of OTC decongestant nasal sprays include:
- Naphazoline ( Privine)
- Oxymetazoline hydrochloride ( Afrin)
- Phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine)
Side effects of these can include burning or stinging in the nose, sneezing, or your nose may run a little more. Using nasal decongestant sprays for more than 3 days in a row can lead to even more congestion and can make you stuffier.
Ask your doctor before taking decongestants if you have:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid disease
- Trouble peeing because of an enlarged prostate
You get these by prescription.
The only leukotriene modifier approved to treat allergy symptoms is montelukast (Singulair).
Side effects can include headaches, nausea, and an upset stomach.
A few other meds may help with seasonal allergies. They include:
Cromolyn sodium ( Nasalcrom), a nasal spray sometimes used to relieve allergy symptoms such as the stuffy, runny nose, and sneezing associated with hay fever. It’s available over the counter. It works by stopping the release of things that cause the allergic reaction.
A prescription eyedrop version of it can help treat the itchy eyes that can come with seasonal allergies.
Decongestant eye drops can relieve itchy eyes in the short term. Examples include:
- Naphazoline hydrochloride ( Clear Eyes, Naphcon-A)
- Tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride ( Murine Plus, Visine)
You can buy them over the counter. Look for products that treat allergy symptoms, such as itchy, watery eyes.
Immunotherapy may help if your symptoms are severe or if OTC or prescription drugs don't help. These allergy shots gradually help your body build a tolerance over 3 to 5 years to the things that cause your symptoms.
The FDA has approved three under-the- tongue tablets that can be taken at home. They're called Grastek, Ragwitek, and Oralair. They treat hay fever and work the same way as shots and drops. You need a prescription to get them.