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    How Do Doctors Diagnose and Treat Hay Fever?

    Medications

    Several are available to treat hay fever.

    Nasal corticosteroids: These are considered the safest and most effective treatment. They have few side effects and will greatly ease your symptoms. It may take a few days for them to work, so start to take them a week or two before pollen season begins. In the U.S., several OTC brands are available including budesonide, fluticasone, and triamcinolone.

    Antihistamines: They can help ease your itches, stop your sneezes, and clear up your runny nose. Doctors recommend the ones that come in pills like cetirizine, fexofenadine, and loratadine. You can get each without a prescription, and they shouldn’t make you drowsy. You can also get drops for your runny, itchy eyes.

    Decongestants: They’ll open up your stuffy nose. You can find products like pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine as tablets or pills. You can get decongestant sprays like oxymetazoline and phenylephrine, but these can make your congestion worse if you take them longer than 3 days. If you have hay fever, you’re better off with a steroid spray. Decongestant eye drops are also on the market. Like nasal spray, you should only use them for 3 days.

    Cromolyn (Crolom): This OTC nasal spray blocks the release of histamines, chemicals that cause your nose to run and make you sneeze. You’ll take it three to six times a day, and it may take up to 4 weeks to feel relief from symptoms. Start to take it before allergy season and your symptoms begin.

    Leukotriene modifiers: The prescription drugs montelukast (Singulair), often used to treat asthma, stops your body from making the chemicals that cause an allergic reaction. It doesn’t work as well as nasal steroids, but it’s an option if you can’t handle the spray.

    Ipratropium (Atrovent), another asthma medication, can help with an ongoing runny nose.

    Immunotherapy

    Given as shots or daily pills, it offers long-term relief from allergy symptoms. You’ll get a tiny dose of the allergens that bother you. Over time your body will get used to them and be less likely to react. You’ll get the shots at your doctor’s office. You might take them for several years.

    The pills go under your tongue. You’ll probably take the first dose in your doctor’s office, but you can take them at home after that. In the U.S. they’re only used to treat grass and ragweed allergies.

    Allergy treatment with medicines or immunotherapy depends on a number of personal things. You and your doctor can decide what’s best for you.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on June 22, 2016
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