If you need relief from your allergies, you have many options to feel better. The best way is to try to avoid the things that trigger your symptoms. Because that's not always easy, you can turn to allergy pills or nasal sprays. Which should you choose?
There are many types of sprays and pills that are available with and without a prescription. Both work best if you use them before you're around your allergy triggers.
By Dr. Amy Wechsler
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Most nasal sprays rarely have side effects except for maybe an irritated nose or a bitter taste in your mouth. You can try a moisturizing nasal gel after you use the medication spray or switch to a different type if your nose gets irritated. Talk to your doctor if they bother you.
Saline spray. Salt water sprays can ease stuffiness and loosen mucus. You can buy them over-the-counter. They don't have medication in them, just water and salt.
Steroid spray. These sprays can help with most allergy symptoms like sneezing, itching, runny nose, and congestion (stuffiness). Because they are so effective and rarely have side effects, they are a very popular allergy treatment. They are often the first things doctors recommend along with taking an antihistamine. They may start working right away. But for some people, it can take 1-2 weeks before they help you feel better. To help them work their best, use them every day.
Antihistamine spray. These prescription sprays usually work within minutes and can ease postnasal drip, congestion, and sneezing. They can be used every day or just when you have symptoms.
Decongestant spray. These prescription and nonprescription sprays can help unclog stuffy noses. Don't use them for more than 3 days or your stuffiness could actually get worse.
Cromolyn sodium spray. These nonprescription sprays (such as Nasalcrom) help prevent allergy symptoms. They calm some of the body's reaction to allergens. You usually have to use them for a few days before they start to work.
Anticholinergic spray. Often used together with antihistamines, this spray (Atrovent) is used to treat clear, runny noses.