If you are in the Salt Lake City Utah area and you can schedule an allergy doctor appointment or contact us with any of your allergy related questions.
When allergies hit hard, desperation to find relief can quickly set in. The good news is that there are a wide variety of medications available to relieve allergy symptoms quickly and effectively. Unfortunately, until you learn more about how these medications work and what type of allergies you are suffering from, you may find that needed relief alluding you. Following is a summary of the allergy medications most commonly recommended by doctors and how they can help your symptoms.
One commonality among most allergy medications is a risk of drowsiness. You may experience drowsiness, dizziness, or just feel mentally foggy. It is imperative that you do not drive or operate machinery until you know how a particular medication may affect you.
Combination antihistamine/decongestant medications:
Zyrtec-D (Cetirizine and Pseudoephedrine)
Clarinex-D 24 Hour (Pseudoephedrine and Destoratadine)
Allegra-D ( Fexofenadine and Pseudoephedrine)
Claritin-D 12 hour and Claritin-D 24 hour (Loratadine and Pseudoephedrine)
Histamine is what stimulates the production of mucous in allergy sufferers. The symptoms resemble those of a cold, such as runny nose and congestion. An antihistamine is designed to block this reaction. The decongestant is designed to constrict blood vessels. Consequently, use of a decongestant tightens the blood vessels in the nose which results in less swelling and, therefore, less stuffiness. Pseudoephedrine is probably the most widely used decongestant. Unfortunately, although Pseudoephedrine can be found in both prescription and over-the-counter products, you will have to ask the pharmacist for the medication. Recent efforts to fight the rise in methamphetamine production have forced the Pseudoephedrine products to be moved behind the counter. Pseudoephedrine, along with being a highly effective decongestant, is a key ingredient in this illegal and extremely addictive stimulant. You will be required to show identification and sign a log book before being allowed to purchase medications which contain Pseudoephedrine. Additionally, it may only be purchased in limited quantities. Because of this, some drug manufacturers are changing their medication formulas to eliminate this ingredient, thereby making their drugs more accessible to consumers.
Astelin (Azelastine nasal spray)
Chlor-Trimeton Allergy, Efidac 24, (Chlorpheniramine)
Claritin, Alavert (Loratadine)
Although antihistamines are not very effective at treating nasal congestion, they are generally the most effective defense against symptoms of sneezing, itching, and runny nose. This is why antihistamines are often combined with decongestants in medications. As previously mentioned, antihistamines block the production of histamine, thereby reducing the effects of swollen nasal passages and runny nose. The antihistamine prevents the histamines from binding to the histamine receptors which inhibits the reaction. The majority of antihistamines are taken orally. Generally they need to be taken at least twice a day to be effective. Antihistamines are notorious for causing drowsiness in approximately 35% of patients, however continued use can build of a tolerance for this unfortunate side effect. In addition, the newer formulations are much less likely to cause excessive drowsiness than the older medications. Other side effects of antihistamines may include blurry vision, dry eyes, constipation, urine retention, and pulse awareness. The most common side effects vary with the different types of antihistamines.
Actifed Daytime Allergy
Triaminic Allergy Congestion
Pseudoephedrine is the most common decongestant, and is the primary ingredient in all of the aforementioned decongestants. Some of these medications have new formulations which do not include Pseudoephedrine, however, due to the fact that Pseudoephedrine is not as easy to obtain as it was before. The new laws regulating the dispensing of medications containing Pseudoephedrine have affected hundreds of different over-the-counter products formulated for both children and adults. You may notice that an allergy medication which worked very well for you previously is no longer as effective. This could be because the formulation was changed due to these new restrictions.
Afrin , Neo-Synephrine (Phenylephrine)
Nasal decongestants which are sprayed directly into the nose are quite effective. They work by constricting blood vessels in the nose. This causes the linings of the nose to be less swollen, hence, less congested. Overuse of nasal decongestants can cause a rebound effect, however, where patients are chronically congested unless they are using the nasal decongestant. For this reason, the inhaled nasal decongestants are not an optimal choice when treating allergy symptoms.
Montelukast, marketed under the name of Singulair, is the only leukotriene modifier that is currently indicated for treatment of seasonal and perennial allergies. Zafirlukast, Montelukast, and Zileuton are the only leukotriene modifiers marketed in the United States at this point in time. They are, however, becoming more popular in the treatment of allergies and, therefore, additional options will probably become available in the future. Leukotriene modifiers are designed to inhibit the production of leukotrienes. The leukotrienes, during an allergic reaction, cause airway obstruction due to mucous production and swelling of the airways. By blocking this inflammatory reaction, allergic symptoms are relieved. There are currently two different aspects of leukotriene modifiers. The first is designed to interfere with the production of leukotrienes, the second interferes with receptor sites. There have been few side effects associated with the use of leukotrienes. Those that have been reported are mild and include nausea and headache. The current hope is that the effectiveness of leukotrienes in treating allergy symptoms will be such that the use of inhaled steroids can be decreased.
Nasal anticholinergics and nasal corticosteroiids:
Atrovent (Ipratropium nasal)
Beconase, Vancenase (Beclomethasone)
Nasacort, Tri-nasal (Triamcinolone)
Nasal dryness, irritation, and burning as well as a bad taste in the mouth are possible side effects of using nasal inhaled medications. Nasal corticosteroids decrease the number of mediators in the nose, thereby reducing swelling and secretions. Although inhaled steroids are extremely effective, concerns have arisen that long-term use may have negative effects on bone structure.
Mast cell stabilizers:
Nasalcrom (Cromolyn sodium)
Nasalcrom is the only mast cell stabilizer currently on the market. Nasalcrom prevents and treats allergies by stabilizing mast cell membranes, thereby inhibiting release of histamine and leukotrienes. This, of course, prevents the inflammatory process from being engaged. Nasalcrom is inhaled through the nose several times a day for best results. The benefits build over time, so optimal effectiveness is not generally reached for up to four weeks from the start of the medication. Nasalcrom is available over-the-counter and generally does not have many side effects. The most commonly noted, however, are dryness and irritation of the nasal passages as well as possible headaches and stomach pain.
With the wide array of choices in allergy treatment your best option is to discuss your symptoms with your health care professional. Each situation needs to be assessed based on age, symptoms, medication interaction with other medications you may be taking, and possible side effects. With all of the options to choose from, there is sure to be a solution for your allergy needs.
Sources: www.AAAI.org, www.aafp.org, www.rxlist.com
Disclaimer: The allergy information on this website is strictly general information and should not be taken as official advice. Please schedule an appointment with an allergy doctor in order to get a proper and full allergy diagnosis.
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