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There are a whopping 50 million allergy suffers in the United States.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for allergies, but there are ways to manage them. Yet, with an array of allergy medications lining the shelves of pharmacies everywhere, how do you sift through what works and what doesn't? You're already miserable -- you don't have time to read the back of every box.

In this article, we'll review which allergy treatments are the best to help alleviate your suffering.

What Are Allergies?

Allergies happen when the body's immune system overreacts to an environmental substance, otherwise called allergens. Your body then sends out histamines to usher out the allergens and in turn creates some uncomfortable symptoms like sneezing, hay fever, itching, and others.

Common allergies can include:

  • Pollen
  • mold
  • Dust
  • Pet dander
  • Medications
  • Milk
  • Wheat
  • Dairy
  • Nuts

Anyone can be allergic to anything. If you suspect an allergy, consult with your doctor so they can have you tested. Best Allergy Medications. Whether you're suffering from chronic or seasonal allergies, one thing is for sure - you're just looking for relief!

Here are the top OTC allergy medications available in pill form.

1. Zyrtec

Zyrtec is the number one OTC allergy medication recommended by an allergist. It's an antihistamine, meaning that it blocks the histamines. Zyrtec offers relief for 24 hours and works within an hour of taking it.

2. Benadryl

Benadryl is another antihistamine that specifically targets allergies stemming from ragweed. This medication has a reputation for creating drowsiness, so be cautious when you take it.

3. Allegra

If you're looking to halt your allergies quickly, take Allegra. You'll have relief for 24 hours without the drowsy side effects thanks to this antihistamine.

4. Claritin

Another popular antihistamine! Claritin is known for its 24-hour working power, and for combating a ton of common allergies - over 200 of them.

5. Xyzal

If seasonal allergies don't ail you, but pet allergies do, give Xyzal a try. This antihistamine targets those allergic to pet dander and has excellent results. Children ages 6 and up can take Xyzal but always check with your doctor first

For Children

All of the above OTC allergy medications also have a children's medicine made for young ones who deal with allergies. They usually come in a liquid or chewable tablet form depending on the brand.

Eyedrops

For some, allergies are localized and minimal. Itchy eyes are one of the most common symptoms of allergies, so antihistamine eyedrops work well. Eyedrops target redness, itchiness, and swollen eyes and are very convenient to use when needed.

Sometimes eye drops may cause side effects like headaches or burn after application. You can get them with or without a prescription.

Nasal Sprays

Nasal sprays work to relieve a stuffy nose, sneezing, congestion, and post-nasal drip that allergies are famously known for. For some, they might cause drowsiness and a strange taste as they travel down your throat. Sprays are available OTC or as a prescription.

Decongestants

Due to the pseudoephedrine in decongestants, these allergy medications can get a bad reputation. But when used responsibly, they offer relief from sinus congestion that accompanies allergies, but they're a temporary fix. They come with a host of side effects ranging from headaches to insomnia, and pregnant women should avoid them.

Common OTC allergy medications are:

  • Zyrtec-D
  • Allegra-D
  • Claritin-D
  • Clarinex-D
  • Sudafed
  • Afrinol

The above mentioned Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin, and Clarinex are a combination of anti-histamine and decongestant. Nasal sprays are also available as a decongestant but are recommended to use no longer than three days.

Steriods

Otherwise known as corticosteroids, these medications work to target the inflammation caused by allergies and the symptoms. Unlike antihistamines, they must be taken regularly, and it can take a while to see results. Corticosteroids are available in pills, liquids, or nasal sprays, both over-the-counter and as a prescription. They also come in inhalers and creams to calm skin-related allergic reactions.

There are many side effects of using steroids to maintain your allergies. Depending on the type and strength of the steroid, some people experience:

  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Retaining water
  • Onset of diabetes
  • A weakening of the muscles and bones

Before you start steroids, be sure to speak to your doctor to see if this is the best way to get relief from your allergies.

Immunotherapy

If you've used every route to manage your allergies and cannot find relief, consider immunotherapy.

The goal of immunotherapy is to expose your body to the allergens, increasing it over time, and therefore improving your body's reaction to it. Although, this does take time - it's not a one-and-done doctor's visit, though it can be highly effective. Most immunotherapy takes roughly three to six months, depending on the severity of the allergy and how the body is reacting.

Most immunotherapy is done by injections or shots. These shots are given at specific times, frequent at first, and then tapering off. Usually, two to three times a week to start and then gradually lessening to maintenance only every few years.

Getting Tested for Allergies

Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint exactly what you're allergic to. This is where allergy testing is beneficial. Seeing a doctor to be tested for allergies is key to knowing exactly how to manage them.

Allergies: Combat Them!

Although allergies are no fun, they can be managed! With a little help from allergy medications and possibly a visit to get tested, you'll start enjoying your life again. Are you letting your allergies get the best of you? We can help you locate and understand your allergy so you can live better. Contact us today for your free consultation!