Have you decided on an antihistamine to test or keep in your survival supply? We’re not finished yet. You might want to add one or two more allergy medications to your seasonal-allergies arsenal.

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That’s because antihistamines don’t work for everyone. However, there are several other allergy treatments available. They might be used in conjunction with or instead of antihistamines (and each other). It’s a world where you can mix and match anything. Before diving in, read up on safety measures.

The following medicines, like antihistamines, work well in some people but not so well in others. Trial and error may be required to determine this.

Decongestants

Why you should consider them: You have a blocked nose or bloodshot eyes.

Tip: If a decongestant is included at the end of an antihistamine (like Allegra-D or Claritin-D), it usually contains a decongestant. For more information, check the ingredients. If you use a nasal spray decongestant, be wary of rebound congestion.

Details: Allergic reactions can be worsened by the presence of histamines, which cause blood vessels to grow. They shrink blood vessels. As a consequence, decongestants reduce the engorged nasal tissues and help you breathe more easily.

Your options are:

  • Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and phenylephrine (Sudafed PE), are taken by mouth. Since it’s a frequent component in the production of methamphetamine, sales of pseudoephedrine have decreased significantly.
  • Nasal spray decongestants, such as oxymetazoline (Afrin Nasal Spray) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine).
  • Decongestant eye drops are used to treat redness and puffiness in the eyes.

Nasal decongestants, on the other hand, are efficient: nasal sprays work in a few minutes. They do have side effects, such as tremors, anxiety, or sleeplessness. They can also raise blood pressure significantly or induce heart rhythm disturbances. And they have similar adverse effects to antihistamines, including difficulty urinating.

Nasal decongestants, like their oral counterparts, might induce the same adverse effects. They are less prone to cause unwanted symptoms than oral decongestants. The danger of rebound congestion concerns them if you use the spray for more than three days in a row. If you use the spray too frequently, the danger of rebound grows. When it happens, most people get comfort by reusing the nose spray, but soon it begins to lose its effectiveness and you require more. It eventually becomes ineffective. The treatment is stopping the usage of the nose spray and waiting several weeks for your congestion to improve through oral steroids.

Mast Cell Stabilizers

Why you might consider them: You’ll need something for sneezing and a runny, itchy nose.

Tip: These are preventive, so you really want to start them early on—even before symptoms start.

Details: When these nasal sprays first became available for over-the-counter usage, years ago, mast cell stabilizers, such as cromolyn sodium (Nasalcrom, Crolom), were anticipated to be major sellers. Perhaps the reason they haven’t been popular is that you must spray your nose every four to six hours and it can take up to two weeks for the treatment to work.

Nasal Steroid Sprays

Why you might consider them: You’ll need something for sneezing and a runny, itchy nose.

Tip: The disadvantage of nasal steroid sprays is that they may take from a few days to a couple of weeks to work. Obviously, you must use them on a regular basis.

Details: Nasal steroid sprays are a type of over-the-counter allergy medication. They work by decreasing nasal inflammation. Other than nasal irritation, they have few negative effects, although nosebleed may occur in rare cases. Read the side effects, however, because even a tiny amount can enter your system.

The two most common over-the-counter allergy treatments are triamcinolone (Nasacort) and fluticasone (Flonase).

If I had to take an over-the-counter combination for seasonal allergies, I’d go with the following combination:

  1. An antihistamine
  2. A nasal steroid spray (which may take a week or more to work; I’d start with the fast-acting antihistamine)
  3. A decongestant, but only on rare occasions since I don’t want to develop rebound congestion.
  4. If this treatment didn’t work to clear up my eyes, I took antihistamine eye drops (and/or decongestant ones).

I’d scratch it all down and try a nasal steroid inhaler first if I had asthma. If that didn’t work, I’d see my doctor about taking leukotrienes for medicinal reasons.

However, each individual is unique. Your tastes may differ greatly.

Leukotriene Modifiers

Why you might consider them: You have asthma, and steroid nasal sprays aren’t working well enough to control your sneezing and stuffy, running nose. (Some people who don’t have asthma use leukotrienes.)

Tip: Leukotriene (pronounced loo-koh-tri’-) modulators are only available by prescription.

Details: Leukotrienes are one of several immune-system-induced chemicals that can produce allergy symptoms. The actions of zafirlukast (Accolate), montelukast (Singulair), and zileuton (Zyflo) can be stopped by medicines like this. Leukotriene modifiers, on the other hand, may help asthmatics breathe more easily because they don’t have as much an impact on moisture in the airways as antihistamines do.

Oral or Injectable Corticosteroids

Why you might consider them: Doctors sometimes give these to people who suffer from allergies in order to tide them over until other allergy medicines take effect or for short-term, occasional usage as a last resort for severe symptoms.

Tip: Only by prescription are corticosteroids available.

Details: The big guns are the ones that pack a punch. They function well. The issue is that they may have severe negative effects, especially if used for long periods of time.

Prednisone, dexamethasone (Decadron), and other drugs are examples.

Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (SCIT)

Why you might consider it: You’re not satisfied with your current acne treatment, or you want to try this therapy so you may reduce the amount of medicines you take.

Tip: This is a set of photographs, but it’s also been done before with a similar therapy that’s popular in Europe. If you’re interested, check to see whether it’s available in your area yet.

Details: You’ll start with a test to identify your allergies. After that, you’ll get or self-administer tiny doses of the allergen on a regular basis (usually weekly). This will last for three to five years. The goal is for your body to become more acclimated to these allergens, resulting in a less severe allergic reaction.

Although SCIT is more expensive than the other allergy-treatment choices I’ve mentioned, and many people don’t have serious allergic responses to the injections. Some people respond better to SCIT than others. You probably can’t go rolling in whatever you’re allergic to and expect not to have negative effects even after completing the injection course. There’s also a form of SCIT for animal bites and other types of allergies besides seasonal ones.

Whew. There are a lot of allergy medication options out there. It may seem like overkill, but some people must go through many trial and errors before finding something that works for them. The good news is that there are more options than ever before.

What is your opinion about it?

Photo by Wengang Zhai/Unsplash

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