Allergy Medicines: Over-the-Counter
You can buy many allergy medicines without a prescription. You may:
Use the over-the-counter (OTC) alone or with prescription medicine
Use all medicines exactly as instructed
If you have any questions about your allergy medicine, ask your healthcare provider or your pharmacist
There are many OTC allergy medicines including antihistamines, decongestants, and steroid nasal spray. And, there are combination products. For example, a pill with both an antihistamine and a decongestant. You may also be instructed to take more than one medicine. For example, a steroid nasal spray and an antihistamine nasal spray.
Antihistamines block the release of histamine, the substance released by your body that causes many allergy symptoms. They help lessen sneezing, itching, and runny noses.
Are available as pills, liquids, and nasal sprays.
May cause you to be sleepy
Should be taken as instructed
Decongestants reduce swelling of the nasal passages. They relieve pressure and pain in your sinuses.
Are available as pills, liquids, and nasal sprays
Should not be used for more than a few days. Overuse can actually make your symptoms worse.
Steroid nasal sprays
Steroid nasal sprays are used for nasal allergy symptoms. They help to lessen nasal congestion and swelling, runny noses, and sneezing.
Steroid nasal sprays:
Shouldn't be used without your provider's advice
Can cause side effects, like nasal bleeding
Should be sprayed into the nose correctly
Make sure you read and follow the instructions on the label. If you have any questions about these medicines, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.