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Allergies Health Center

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Understanding Hay Fever: Diagnosis and Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Hay Fever? continued...

Some over-the-counter nasal sprays may contain a decongestant or an antihistamine. These sprays help with pain and itching by opening clogged nasal passages and reducing inflammation. Decongestant nasal sprays should not be used for more than three days in a row as they can have a rebound effect and cause more severe nasal congestion.

Regular use of the nasal spray NasalCrom, available over-the-counter, prevents the lining of the nasal passages from reacting to the allergen affecting you. More severe allergies may benefit from nasal sprays containing steroids, which are strong anti-inflammatories and help with many allergy symptoms. These medications work locally with little to no effect on the rest of the body. If used consistently and regularly, nasal steroids are typically the most effective drug treatment. They are also effective maintenance drugs for hay fever and cause few side effects at the recommended doses. They include budesonide (Rhinocort), ciclesonide (Omnaris, Zetonna), fluticasone (Flonase), mometasone (Nasonex), triamcinalone (Nasocort), and others, and require a prescription. Two steroid sprays, Nasacort Allergy 24HR and Flonase Allergy Relief, are available over the counter. Also, Dymista is a nasal spray that combines a steroid and an antihistamine.

Another class of medicine used for allergic rhinitis is the leukotriene receptor antagonist, such as montelukast (Singulair). They are taken orally as a tablet, have few side effects, and require a prescription.

Another avenue to try is allergy shots, or immunotherapy. This treatment involves a series of injections in increasingly larger doses of the allergen until your body becomes desensitized to it and no longer overreacts in response to it. Immunotherapy has shown positive results in up to 75% of people with extreme cases of hay fever. It typically takes one to five years of shots to see results.

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.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on February 28, 2015
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