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What do I need to know about taking medications?

When You Take Medications for Your Nasal Allergies When taking medication for your nasal allergies, you need to:

  • Keep your doctor informed about all other medications, herbal remedies, and supplements you're taking.
  • Know what the medication you're taking is supposed to do. Also be sure you know the proper way to take it.
  • Talk with your doctor and pharmacist about possible side effects. Be sure you know which ones are serious and what you should do if you have them.
  • Know whether or not your medication causes drowsiness. If it does, be sure you know when it's safe to use and what you shouldn't do when using it, such as drive a car.
  • Talk with your doctor about which nasal allergy medications are right for you if you have any of the following medical problems: stomach or bladder obstructions, narrow-angle glaucoma, peptic ulcers, or enlarged prostate.

Medications will not cure your nasal allergies. But they will work to prevent or to relieve symptoms of an allergic reaction. Sometimes, you need to take more than one kind of medicine to control all of your symptoms. For instance, you may need both an antihistamine and a decongestant. Sometimes, the medications themselves will be a combination of more than one kind of medicine.

Many of these medicines are available over the counter (OTC), meaning you can buy them without a prescription. There are also medications that are available by prescription only. Some of the newer antihistamines, for example, are only available with a prescription. Many of these antihistamines don't make you drowsy and may be safer to use.

Talk with your doctor about your goals for controlling your nasal allergies. For many people, a combination of avoiding allergens and taking the right medications at the right time provides the control they need. Also talk with your doctor about other drugs you take or have taken and about your health in general. 

See what types of medicines can I take for nasal allergies? for a list of medications that can help control symptoms of nasal allergies.

If you're pregnant, make sure all of your doctors know what drugs you take and ask if they can be taken during pregnancy. It might be best to avoid all medications if your allergies are mild. If your allergies are severe, there are some drugs that are less likely to have any effect on your baby. Check with your doctor.