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Allergy Medications

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Combination Allergy Drugs

Some allergy drugs contain both an antihistamine and a decongestant to relieve multiple allergy symptoms. Other drugs have multiple effects aside from just blocking the effects of histamine, such as preventing mast cells from releasing other allergy-inducing chemicals. 

Some examples of combination allergy medicines include:

  • Over-the-counter: Allegra-D, Claritin-D, Zyrtec-D, Benadryl Allergy and Sinus, Tylenol Allergy and Sinus
  • Prescription:Semprex-D for nasal allergies; Naphcon, Vasocon, Zaditor, Patanol, and Optivar for allergic conjunctivitis; Dymista combines an antihistamine with a steroid for in a nasal spray for seasonal nasal allergies.   

 

Steroids

Steroids, known medically as corticosteroids, can reduce inflammation associated with allergies. They prevent and treat nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and itchy, runny nose due to seasonal or year-round allergies. They can also decrease inflammation and swelling from other types of allergic reactions.

Systemic steroids are available in various forms: as pills or liquids for serious allergies or asthma, locally acting inhalers for asthma, locally acting nasal sprays for seasonal or year-round allergies, topical creams for skin allergies, or topical eye drops for allergic conjunctivitis. In addition to steroid medications, your physician may decide to prescribe additional types of medications to help combat your allergic symptoms. 

Steroids are highly effective drugs for allergies, but they must be taken regularly, often daily, to be of benefit -- even when you aren't feeling allergy symptoms. In addition, it may take one to two weeks before the full effect of the medicine can be felt.

Some steroids include:

  • Prescription nasal steroids: Beconase, Flonase, Nasocort, Nasonex, Rhinocort, Veramyst, Qnasl, Zetonna, and generic fluticasone are used to treat nasal allergy symptoms.
  • Over-the-counter nasal steroids: Nasacort Allergy 24HR
  • Inhaled steroids:Azmacort, Flovent, Pulmicort, Asmanex, Q-Var, Alvesco, and Aerobid are used to treat asthma. Advair and Symbicort are inhaled drugs called bronchodilators that combine a steroid with another drug to treat asthma. Inhaled steroids are available only with a prescription.
  • Eye drops: Alrex and Dexamethasone
  • Oral steroids:Deltasone, also called prednisone

 

What Are the Side Effects of Steroids?

Steroids have many potential side effects, especially when given orally, systemically, and for a long period of time.

Side effects of systemic steroids with short-term use include:

  • Weight gain
  • Fluid retention
  • High blood pressure

Potential systemic steroid side effects with long-term use include:

  • Growth suppression
  • Diabetes
  • Cataracts of the eyes
  • Bone thinning osteoporosis
  • Muscle weakness

Side effects of inhaled steroids may include cough, hoarseness, or fungal infections of the mouth.

Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are inhaled drugs used to control asthma symptoms and are available only with a prescription. A short-acting bronchodilator is used to provide quick relief for asthma symptoms during an attack. Long-acting bronchodilators can provide up to 12 hours of relief from asthma symptoms, which is helpful to people who suffer from nighttime asthma problems.

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