Can I Manage Allergies With Over-the-Counter Drugs?

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on June 27, 2020

Many people find the allergy medicine they buy at the drug store is enough to relieve their symptoms. Antihistamines like cetirizine (Zyrtec), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin) and olopatadine (Pataday eye drops) treat symptoms like nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. 

You can also use a saline rinse or decongestant pill, if you don’t have high blood pressure. Decongestant sprays can help unstop your nose, but you should only use them for three days. 

Steroid nasal sprays reduce inflammation. Three nasal sprays, budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy), fluticasone (Flonase), and Triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24HR), are available over the counter.

If those don’t work, see your doctor. There are other drugs that they can prescribe to make you feel better.

WebMD Medical Reference



Paul Enright, MD, WebMD allergy expert; research professor of medicine and public health, University of Arizona, Tucson.

Jeffrey M. Factor, MD, spokesperson, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; associate clinical professor, pediatrics, University of Connecticut Health Center, West Hartford, Conn.

Neil Kao, MD, FACP, spokesperson, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; Allergic Disease and Asthma Center, Greenville, S.C.

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American College of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology.

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