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Allergy Treatments and Their Side Effects

Many factors — including cost, effectiveness, and availability (over-the-counter vs. prescription) — as well as side effects go into the choice of allergy treatments. This is an outline of allergy treatments and their side effects.
By MedShadow Staff
Published: April 19, 2018
Last updated: April 19, 2018
 

Many factors — including cost, effectiveness, and availability (over-the-counter vs. prescription) — as well as side effects go into the choice of allergy treatments. Consult a medical professional to discuss which option might be best for you.
Originally published May 8, 2014. Updated in 2017.
–Medshadow Staff


Treatment

Antihistamines (Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec, etc.)

How it works

Reduce allergy symptoms by blocking the formation of histamines, the chemicals that your body produces in reaction to allergens and that cause a stuffy or drippy nose and watery or itchy eyes

Common side effects/other considerations

Dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness

Treatment

Decongestants (Afrin, Dristan, Sudafed, etc.)

How it works

Relieve nasal congestion by shrinking swollen tissues and blood vessels inside the nose

Common side effects/other considerations

Jitteriness, sleeplessness, rebound effect (congestion gets worse instead of better)

Treatment

Steroid nasal sprays (Beconase, Flonase, Nasacort, etc.)

How it works

Treat allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages

Common side effects/other considerations

Nosebleed, sore throat

Treatment

Leukotriene inhibitors (Singulair, etc.)

How it works

Inhibit a chemical your body produces called leukotriene, which makes the nasal passages swell and generate mucus

Common side effects/other considerations

Headache, earache, sore throat

Treatment

Mast cell stabilizers (Crolom, NasalCrom, etc.)

How it works

Prevent the release of symptom-causing chemicals, including histamines, when you are exposed to pollens

Common side effects/other considerations

Stinging, burning, redness and swelling of the eyes (if taken as eyedrops); congestion, sneezing, itching, nosebleeds (if taken as a nasal spray)

Treatment

Immunotherapy

How it works

Reduces your body’s sensitivity to allergens by exposing it to very small amounts, which are gradually increased

Common side effects/other considerations

Itchy eyes, shortness of breath, runny nose, tight throat (shots); itchy mouth, throat irritation (pills)

Treatment

Herbal remedies

How it works

Like allergy medicines, they may act as antihistamines, decongestants, leukotriene inhibitors, or mast cell stabilizers; their function varies by herb or formulation.

Common side effects/other considerations

Digestive upset; skin rash if allergic

Treatment

Acupuncture

How it works

Seeks to restore the proper flow of qi (energy) through the placement of very thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body

Common side effects/other considerations

Bleeding, bruising, minor pain, or soreness; if you are taking blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder, consult your doctor before receiving acupuncture.

MedShadow Staff

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