Allergy Medications

How to decide. To discover whether taking allergy medications is the right approach for you, ask yourself three questions:

  • Am I unable to completely avoid my allergens?
  • Are my allergy symptoms making my life uncomfortable?
  • Do I want better control of my nasal allergies?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, allergy medication may be right for you.

If you decide to take allergy medicines. If you and your doctor decide that taking allergy medications is a good option for you, see Allergy Medication. Also keep this in mind: It is up to you to learn about your allergy medications and to make sure you use them safely and effectively. That means you'll need to do three things:

  • Carefully read the labels on all allergy medications.
  • Ask your pharmacist for information. He or she can answer many of your questions and may give you written instructions for taking your allergy medications.
  • Discuss your allergy medications with your regular doctor and any specialists you see. Make sure you ask the right questions.

Benefits of OTC allergy medicines. Many people find that over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines relieve their allergy symptoms. They are also fairly inexpensive.

What to watch out for with OTC allergy medications. Many OTC antihistamines cause drowsiness, impaired thinking, poor reaction times, and trouble concentrating. It is also illegal in many states to take OTC antihistamines when driving a car or operating machinery. Recently some non-sedating antihistamines have become available OTC. Consult with your allergy specialist to see if these might be the right allergy medications for you.

Benefits of prescription allergy medicines. Prescription allergy medications can often reduce the symptoms of nasal allergies without many of the side effects found in OTC allergy medications. Your doctor will choose allergy medications for you based on many factors, including your allergy symptoms and medical history. In addition, he or she will consider which allergy medicines have worked for you in the past, which haven't, and which you're taking now.