Nasal Allergy Medications

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Nasal allergy (allergic rhinitis) medication introduction

Although they are the cornerstone of allergy treatment, avoidance measures are not always enough to manage all of the symptoms of nasal allergies (allergic rhinitis). When the symptoms of nasal allergies are mild or intermittent, antihistamines with or without decongestants can help. Very often, some relief can be found in taking over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and this is usually the first step an allergy sufferer will take. Self-medication, though, is frequently inadequate since OTC drugs cannot adequately treat the more intense inflammation that develops in the nose. At this stage, anti-inflammatory medications are required, usually in the form of intra- nasal steroid sprays (sprayed into the nose).

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.

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