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Allergy Relief: Oral Medicines or Nasal Sprays?

If you need nasal allergy relief, you may wonder if an allergy pill or a nasal spray is more effective. The fact is, by delivering allergy medicines directly to the site -- your nose -- nasal allergy sprays help prevent and treat allergy symptoms with fewer side effects than pills.

Which allergy medicines are used in nasal sprays for allergy relief?

Allergy sprays contain different types of medicines that treat allergy symptoms. Some contain nasal steroids. Others contain antihistamines, anticholinergics, decongestants, and allergy medicines such as mast cell inhibitors.

How do nasal steroids give allergy relief?

Today, steroid nasal sprays are considered the most effective and underused medical treatment for controlling nasal allergy symptoms. Steroid nasal sprays give allergy relief for all nasal allergy symptoms (congestion and discharge). They are not associated with significant side effects.

Steroids are medicines that fight inflammation and mucus production, reducing the reaction of nasal tissues to inhaled allergens, like pollen. Nasal steroids manage year-round allergic and nonallergic rhinitis. Nasal steroids can also treat nasal polyps that often cause obstruction and lead to nasal congestion and sinus infections.

How do antihistamine and decongestant nasal sprays give allergy relief?

When antihistamines or decongestants are used in nasal sprays instead of taken orally, you may get effective relief of allergy symptoms without some of the side effects of oral allergy medicines.

Decongestant nasal sprays give allergy relief for a swollen, congested nasal passage. A decongestant nasal spray may also relieve nasal swelling quickly without causing symptoms such as insomnia. However, decongestants should be used with caution in patients with high blood pressure and heart disease.

Antihistamines block the effect of "histamine," a substance in the body that causes nasal stuffiness and dripping in hay fever.

An antihistamine nasal spray can treat allergy symptoms, including the drippy nose, without causing as much drowsiness as an oral antihistamine. However, use caution when driving, because drowsiness can be a side effect of antihistamine nasal sprays.

It's best to use antihistamine nasal sprays before you're exposed to allergens to prevent sneezing, runny nose, and itchiness. Topical antihistamines are also effective for treating itchy eyes, sneezing, and itching.

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