With more than 50 million Americans suffering from some type of allergy, according to Dr. Arthur Schoenstadt, allergy medications make up a high proportion of both prescription and over-the-counter drug sales 2. It's not only possible but sometimes necessary to take more than one type of allergy medicine at a time, since different categories of allergy medicines accomplish different purposes. However, you should never mix medications without your doctor's approval, even over-the-counter varieties. Taking two medications with different names but similar effects increases your chance of developing serious side effects.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Allergy medications fall into several different classifications. Some medications prevent allergy attacks; you may typically take these medications daily. Others treat acute allergy symptoms; you may take these when you experience allergy symptoms. Some medications, like allergy shots, can permanently decrease your sensitivity to allergens. Allergy medications may come in oral or inhalant form 1. If you have a severe allergy attack, called anaphylaxis, injected epinephrine or adrenaline can reduce the release of histamine, which causes many of the severe allergy side effects such as swelling.
- Allergy medications fall into several different classifications.
- Some medications, like allergy shots, can permanently decrease your sensitivity to allergens.
Allergy Eye Drops & Pregnancy
Allergy drugs accomplish specific purposes. Since they work on different symptoms, taking several allergy medicines together may reduce symptoms more quickly. Decongestants taken orally or as nasal or eye drops can decrease sinus or nasal congestion as well as relieve the red eyes that often occur with allergic reactions. Use drops only as directed on the bottle. Antihistamines, taken orally or as nasal sprays, reduce histamine production, which reduces symptoms. Corticosteroids, generally available only via prescription in inhaled, oral or drop form, reduce inflammation. Leukotriene modifiers reduce leukotrienes, another chemical cause of an allergic reaction.
- Allergy drugs accomplish specific purposes.
- Antihistamines, taken orally or as nasal sprays, reduce histamine production, which reduces symptoms.
Most allergy medications have side effects, with drowsiness the most common reported for antihistamines, although dry mouth and nausea are among other possibilities. Decongestants can also have central nervous system effects, including dizziness, difficulty sleeping, high blood pressure, anxiety, rapid heartbeat and restlessness. Rarely, decongestant eye drops can cause a rise in eye pressure called glaucoma. Corticosteroids taken orally have a long list of long-term effects such as skin thinning, mood swings, weight gain, fluid retention and bone loss. Take corticosteroids only under your doctor's supervision.
- Most allergy medications have side effects, with drowsiness the most common reported for antihistamines, although dry mouth and nausea are among other possibilities.
- Rarely, decongestant eye drops can cause a rise in eye pressure called glaucoma.
List of Allergy Medicines
Some drugs that come in both prescription and over-the-counter version combine antihistamines and decongestants, which can decrease the number of pills you have to take. If you do take combination medications, make sure you're not taking other medications that have the same purpose. Ask your doctor to check your medication list for possible duplications.
Make sure you don't have older decongestants containing phenylpropanolamine in your medicine chest. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned PPA in 2000 because studies showed it increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, particularly in women age 18 to 49, the Cleveland Clinic warns.
Allergy Eye Drops & Pregnancy
List of Allergy Medicines
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Eye Bags & Allergies
- MayoClinic.com; Allergy Medications: Know Your Options; June 23, 2011
- Cleveland Clinic: Over-the-Counter: Choosing the Right Allergy Medications
- MayoClinic.com; Antihistamine/Decongestant Combination (Oral Route); June 1, 2011
- eMedTV; Allergy Statistics; Arthur Schoenstadt, M.D.; July 22, 2010
- Slit Treatment (Allergy Tablets) for Allergic Rhinitis Nothing to Sneeze About. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergen Immunotherapy A Practice Parameter Third Update. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011 doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.09.034
- Saporta D. Sublingual Immunotherapy: A Useful Tool for the Allergist in Private Practice. Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:9323804. doi:10.1155/2016/9323804
- Saporta D. Efficacy of sublingual immunotherapy versus subcutaneous injection immunotherapy in allergic patients. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:492405. doi:10.1155/2012/492405
- Cox LS, Linnemann DL, Nolte H, Weldon D, Finegold I, Nelson HS. Sublingual Immunotherapy: A Comprehensive Review. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006;117:1021-35.
- Potter PC. Update on Sublingual Immunotherapy. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006;96:S22-5.
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.