Use Conventional Medicine Treatment for Allergies - dummies

Use Conventional Medicine Treatment for Allergies

By Wendy Warner, Kellyann Petrucci

Although quite a few medications are available to treat allergies, avoidance is actually a pretty smart way to start treatment for allergic rhinitis — if you’re not around an allergen, you won’t react to it.

For seasonal allergies, this means staying indoors when possible during high pollen days (usually hot, dry, and windy days). For year-round allergies, this could mean using air filters and purifiers in the home, especially in the bedroom because you spend more time there.

Wash bed linens in hot water to kill dust mites, and consider purchasing impermeable mattress and pillow covers to reduce exposure. Either replace carpets with hard flooring or vacuum them frequently, and use blinds instead of drapes or at least clean fabric drapes as often as possible. Of course, to avoid pet dander, you have to either not keep pets or have pets with low or no dander production.

Typical medications given for allergies include the following:

  • Antihistamines: These meds stop histamine production and its symptoms. Over-the-counter options include older meds such as Benadryl and Tavist, which can cause drowsiness, and newer options like Claritin, Zyrtec, and others, which are less sedating. Prescription options tend to last longer and include drugs like Clarinex.

    [Credit: © 2010]
    Credit: © 2010
  • Decongestants: These options treat the swelling and include Sudafed, Actifed, and others. Use these meds for only a few days at a time; otherwise, they can cause rebound swelling and make matters worse. Also, some contain pseudoephedrine, which can raise blood pressure.

  • Nasal corticosteroids: Sprays such as these stop the inflammation, so they reduce symptoms, such as itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Common examples are Flonase, Nasonex, and Nasocort.

  • Leukotriene modifiers: Because leukotrienes are inflammatory mediators, blocking their production also decreases itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Leukotriene modifiers don’t cause drowsiness, and you need to use them only once a day. Options include Singulair and Accolate.

  • Cromolyn sodium: This older, over-the-counter medication prevents the release of histamine. It’s best to take this med before symptoms even start (even if you’ve just been exposed or expect to be exposed to something you know you’re allergic to).

  • Nasal atropine: Atropine causes constriction of blood vessels, so it’s useful in stopping severe runny noses. Contraindications include glaucoma or an enlarged prostate.

Also known as desensitization or allergy shots, immunotherapy treatment consists of injection of high-dose allergens to block the allergic response. Although it’s been shown to be about 80 to 90 percent successful for some allergens, it requires up to three to five years of treatment to get relief. Immunotherapy can be associated with severe systemic reactions in some cases and should, therefore, be considered only if medical treatment is ineffective.