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Ways to Treat Allergies

1. Oral decongestants

If your nose is so stuffy from allergies that you have trouble breathing at night or you’re snoring, try an over-the-counter oral decongestant like Sudafed (or generic pseudoephedrine tablets). Note: These drugs may keep you awake at night, so take them during the day.

2. Nasal spray decongestants

If you need something at night, try a nasal spray decongestant like Afrin. Nasal sprays won’t keep you awake like oral decongestants, and you only need one or two squirts in each nostril to relieve congestion for up to 12 hours. Don’t use them for more than three days, however-they can have a “rebound” effect that results in increased swelling when you stop using them.

3. Eye drops

Plain “natural tears” drops rinse allergens from the eye, while astringent or decongestant drops like Visine shrink blood vessels to take the red out. Antihistamine eye drops also reduce the itching and swelling caused by the release of histamine (your eyes have a lot of mast cells).

4. Nasal steroid sprays

Nasal steroid sprays, such as Flonase (available by prescription), work by reducing inflammation. They can take a few days to begin working, and you’ll have to use them every day during allergy season for them to be effective.

5. Mast cell stabilizers

Mast cell stabilizers, such as Intal, are prescription drugs that work by preventing the release of inflammatory chemicals like histamines and leukotrienes from mast cells. Because they stop allergies earlier in the process, they are a step better than antihistamines, which prevent the action of histamine after it’s released.

6. Long-acting antihistamines

Long-acting prescription antihistamines, such as Clarinex, contain the same active ingredients as their over-the-counter cousins, but they last longer with a single dose.

7. Leukotriene modifiers

Leukotriene modifiers were initially developed to treat asthma, but because they work by stemming production of leukotrienes, they can also help treat allergy symptoms. One leukotriene modifier, Singulair, is approved for use in allergic rhinitis. Ask your doctor if this prescription could be right for you.