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  What Are Allergies?

Allergy Capitals

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If you find yourself with the symptoms of allergies, visit your local pharmacy to purchase over-the-counter, or OTC, medication for relief. There are two types of OTC medication for treating allergies: antihistamines and decongestants. This is the first spring allergy season that prescription strength, 24-hour, non-drowsy medication is available over the counter. Talk to your pharmacist about what might be best to treat your symptoms and follow the instructions on the label.

  • Antihistamines can help stop allergy symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and itching of the nose and throat. They work by blocking the action of histamine, the substance that causes your symptoms. You may need to take an antihistamine regularly during peak allergy season.

    There are two types of antihistamines: non-drowsy formulas and those that might make you drowsy. Antihistamines come in tablets, quick-dissolve tablets, capsules or liquid.

    New “second generation” antihistamines, provide non-drowsy, 24-hour allergy relief and – for the first time – are available over the counter. The non-drowsy antihistamines you may consider taking include Alavert™ and Claritin®.

    The original “first generation” antihistamines may make you drowsy, a common side effect. First generation antihistamines include Actifed® and Benadryl®.

  • Decongestants help clear your stuffy nose and improve breathing. They work by reducing blood flow to the area (nose, eyes or ears), which allows less fluid in the area, clearing up your congestion.

    Decongestants come as eye and nose drops, sprays, oral tablets and liquid. You should use nose drops and sprays for only three days to avoid later swelling in the nose, which increases your congestion. You can use eye drops more often.

    Some decongestants you may consider taking include Afrin®, Dimetapp®, Dristan®, Robitussin® and Sudafed®.

 prescription medication options


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