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Should I take an over-the-counter or prescription allergy medication?

ANSWER

Given all the options and things to consider, it's best to work with your doctor or allergy specialist to figure out whether an OTC or prescription medication is right for you. You'll want to tell them about your symptoms and any medicines you've tried in the past.

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Allergy medications: Know your options."

ConsumerMedSafety.org: "Differences between prescription and OTC medicines."

FDA: "Prescription Drugs and Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs: Questions and Answers."

National Eczema Association: "Hydrocortisone FAQ."

Medscape: "Allergic Rhinitis Medication."

MedlinePlus: "Montelukast."

"Using the Antihistamines to Treat: Allergies, Hay Fever, & Hives," Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, July 2013.

Gray, S.L. , published online March 2015. JAMA Internal Medicine

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "When to See an Allergist," "AAAAI Allergy & Asthma Medication Guide."

FamilyDoctor.org: "Antihistamines: Understanding Your OTC Options," "OTC Medicines: Know Your Risks and Reduce Them."

American Medical News: "Doctors pressured to write prescriptions for OTC drugs."

U.S. News & World Report: "What You Don't Know About Your Obamacare Coverage."

HealthyChildren.org: "Allergy Medicine for Children."

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on July 20, 2018

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Allergy medications: Know your options."

ConsumerMedSafety.org: "Differences between prescription and OTC medicines."

FDA: "Prescription Drugs and Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs: Questions and Answers."

National Eczema Association: "Hydrocortisone FAQ."

Medscape: "Allergic Rhinitis Medication."

MedlinePlus: "Montelukast."

"Using the Antihistamines to Treat: Allergies, Hay Fever, & Hives," Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, July 2013.

Gray, S.L. , published online March 2015. JAMA Internal Medicine

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "When to See an Allergist," "AAAAI Allergy & Asthma Medication Guide."

FamilyDoctor.org: "Antihistamines: Understanding Your OTC Options," "OTC Medicines: Know Your Risks and Reduce Them."

American Medical News: "Doctors pressured to write prescriptions for OTC drugs."

U.S. News & World Report: "What You Don't Know About Your Obamacare Coverage."

HealthyChildren.org: "Allergy Medicine for Children."

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on July 20, 2018

NEXT QUESTION:

When do you need a prescription to buy over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicines?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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