Overview of Hay Fever Treatments

Allergy season can make people miserable with symptoms of hay fever, causing them to want to take medications. A variety of allergy medications is available for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, from over-the-counter (OTC) options to prescription-only drugs. Given the number of choices available, almost everyone can find a medicine that will help them get through allergy season.

Woman looking at medication
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Over-the-Counter Medications

Numerous OTC medications are available for the treatment of nasal allergy symptoms. Some, like oral decongestants such as Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) and sedating antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine), have been available for many years. Others, such as Claritin (loratadine) and Zyrtec-D (cetirizine/pseudoephedrine), have become available OTC without a prescription.

Most OTC nasal sprays and eye drops can be used only for a short period of time because of adverse side effects with long-term use. Exceptions to this include NasalCrom nasal spray and Zaditor eye drops, respectively.


Antihistamines block the action of histamine, a chemical released from allergic cells in the body that causes most allergy symptoms. A variety of oral antihistamines are available for the treatment of allergies, in prescription and OTC forms. These medications can be taken regularly or as needed, since most antihistamines start working within an hour or two after being taken.

Prescription Nasal Sprays

Allergy nasal sprays are the most effective medications for the treatment of nasal allergy symptoms and are more effective than oral antihistamines. Unlike over-the-counter nasal sprays, prescription nasal sprays can be used long term without fear of addiction. Nasal sprays do, however, have a downside: They need to be used routinely to get the best results, and many people do not like the idea of putting a medication in their nose.


Montelukast (Singulair), a once-daily prescription medication, was developed a number of years ago for the treatment of asthma. In recent years, it was discovered that Singulair was also effective for the treatment of nasal allergies. Singulair is not an antihistamine; rather, it blocks another mediator of inflammation, called leukotrienes.

Inexpensive Allergy Treatments

With prices on the rise for just about everything these days, everyone is looking to save money. And, with gas prices at historic highs, nobody wants to make unnecessary trips to the doctor’s office or local drugstore for medical treatments, so everyone is looking for more inexpensive ways to treat their allergies.

Alternative Allergy Treatments

In recent years, alternative medicine has become popular, with approximately half of the population either currently using or having used an alternative therapy on at least one occasion. The most common forms of alternative therapy include acupuncture, homeopathic remedies, herbal medicines, and yoga. This increased use of alternative medicine seems to be based on distrust of conventional and scientific-based medicine, bad experiences with physicians, and/or belief that alternative therapy is safe, natural and without side effects.

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