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How to Survive Spring Allergy Season

Top allergy experts answer the 10 most pressing questions on treatment, care, and prevention of spring allergies.

How can I manage my allergies using over-the-counter medication? continued...

Look for antihistamine on the label when shopping for eyedrops; these treat the root of your allergy symptoms, instead of eyedrops that just relieve the redness (also known as decongestant eyedrops). If you do buy the latter, be sure you don't use them for more than two to three days -- over time you will need more and more to relieve the redness.

Are nasal sprays really addictive?

The rumors are true: Some over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays can be addicting if not used as a short-term solution. You want to find a nonaddicting nasal spray if you decide to use this product.

"Over-the-counter nasal sprays are extremely effective, but they are also extremely addictive," says Jeffrey M. Factor, MD, an allergist and immunologist at the Connecticut Asthma & Allergy Center in West Hartford.

Your nose becomes dependent on the nasal spray and stops working the way it should when the spray is overused, he explains. This causes rebound congestion -- meaning the medication loses power the more you use it. When the spray stops working, the congestion comes back with a vengeance. If you're hooked, prescription nasal steroids can help you kick the habit and improve your congestion during the spring allergy season.

How can you tell if an over-the-counter nasal spray might be long-term trouble? Check the label for a warning -- if it says "don't use the spray for more than three days at a time," pay attention.

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