Nasal Allergy Medications (cont.)

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The combination of an antihistamine (with or without a decongestant) and a topical nasal steroid spray will usually afford good relief with minimal side effects. Other classes of medications have also been used. For example, leukotriene receptor antagonists, cromolyns and anticholinergic agents are all types of medications used to treat nasal allergies. The following article presents aspects of these medication types in more detail to understand their role in the treatment of nasal allergy.

Nasal allergy symptoms: an overview of treatments

This is a simplified overview of nasal allergy symptoms and the treatment(s) used to reduce or stop these symptoms.

Nasal Symptom(s) and Appropriate Medicine
Nasal Symptom(s) Medication
Sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose/throat Antihistamine
Stuffy nose Decongestant
Combinations of sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose/throat, and stuffy nose Antihistamine plus a decongestant. For more severe symptoms, steroids, cromolyn (Intal, Opticrom, Gastrocrom), or anticholinergic agents may be added.

The above table simply shows the overview of treatments; the following sections provide additional information about these treatment types and helps explain some of the details about these treatments.

What's the difference between a controller and a reliever?

Throughout this section on nasal allergy management, the various treatments will be referred to as "controllers" or "relievers" of symptoms. Controllers are used to prevent symptoms by interfering with the underlying causes of the inflammatory response or the actions of chemical mediators. Examples of controllers include:

  • Drugs that block the attachment of histamine to special receptors on cells (antihistamines)
  • Drugs that prevent mast cells from releasing chemicals (cromolyn)
  • Drugs that prevent or reduce inflammation that arises from an allergic reaction (steroids)


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