Allergies show up when the body’s immune system reacts to a substance it perceives as “foreign” or an “invader” such as bacteria or viruses. Drugs are available in the form of tablets, liquids, inhalers, nasal sprays, eyedrops, skin creams, and needles to create a defend mechanism against allergies. Each one works in a different way. Some are sold over-the-counter, while others require a prescription from your doctor.
Here are the most common medicines for allergies:
- Antihistamine – This drug eases allergy symptoms like runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, hives, swelling, and others. Antihistamines block histamine, a symptom-inducing substance released by the immune system during an allergy attack.
- Decongestants – They provide immediate, temporary relief from nasal and sinus congestion. It can take different forms, such as pills, liquids, nasal sprays, and drops.
- Corticosteroid – This medicine relieves symptoms by suppressing allergy-related infections. Corticosteroids may come in nasal sprays, inhalers, eyedrops, pills and liquids, and skin creams.
- Mast cell stabilizers – These allergy drugs prevent the release of chemicals that trigger allergic reactions in the immune system. It requires several days of regular intake to experience its full effect.
- Leukotriene inhibitors – A leukotriene inhibitor is a prescription medicine that inhibits the production of symptom-causing substances known as leukotrienes.
- Allergen immunotherapy – Immunotherapy involves progressively increasing exposure to allergens, especially those that are difficult to avoid, such as pollens, dust mites, and molds. The objective is to train the immune system to be non-reactive to specific allergens.
- Emergency epinephrine shots – Epinephrine shots treat anaphylaxis, a sudden and sometimes life-threatening allergic reaction.