Side effects of oral decongestants may include nervousness, dizziness, or sleeplessness.
Examples of OTC decongestant nasal sprays include:
- naphazoline (Privine)
- oxymetazoline hydrochloride (Afrin)
- phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine)
Side effects of nasal spray decongestants may include: burning or stinging in the nose, sneezing, or an increase in nasal discharge. Using nasal decongestant sprays for more than three days in a row can lead to rebound congestion and greater nasal stuffiness.
You should ask your doctor before taking either oral or nasal spray decongestants if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, or difficulty urinating because of an enlarged prostate.
Nasal Corticosteroid Sprays
Your doctor may prescribe these medications to use along with antihistamines or instead of them. Two sprays, Nasacort Allergy 24HR and Flonase Allergy Relief, are available over the counter. They are effective at relieving nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing.
How they work: These medications work by reducing inflammation.
These are examples of nasal corticosteroids:
- Budesonide (Rhinocort)
- Ciclesonide (Omnaris)
- Fluticasone furoate (Veramyst)
- Fluticasone propionate (Flonase)
- Funisolide (Nasarel)
- Mometasone (Nasonex)
- Triamcinolone acetonide (Nasacort AQ)
Side effects may include:
- Sore nose
This allergy drug is available by prescription.
How they work: Leukotriene blockers work by blocking immune system chemicals that cause allergy symptoms. This can help reduce inflammation and relieve congestion, a runny and itchy nose, and sneezing.
The only leukotriene modifier approved to treat allergy symptoms is Singulair (montelukast).
Side effects may include:
- Stomach upset
A few other medications 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 is available over the counter. It works by stopping the release of substances involved in the allergic reaction. Cromolyn sodium eye drops are available by prescription to help treat the itchy eyes that can accompany seasonal allergies.
- Decongestant eye drops – sometimes combined as decongestant-antihistamine eye drops – can temporarily relieve itchy eyes. Examples include naphazoline hydrochloride (Clear Eyes, Naphcon-A) and tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride (Murine Plus, Visine). They are available over the counter. Look for products that treat allergy symptoms, such as itchy, watery eyes.
If your allergy symptoms are severe or not relieved by either OTC or prescription drugs, immunotherapy may help. These allergy shots gradually help your body build up a tolerance over a period of three to five years to the allergens that cause your symptoms.
Also, the FDA has approved three under-the-tongue tablets that can be taken at home. The prescription tablets, called Grastek, Ragwitek, and Oralair, are used for treating hay fever and work the same way as shots and drops -- the goal is to boost a patient’s tolerance of allergy triggers.