Allergy and Asthma
Medication as treatment for allergy
Specific treatment with medications will be determined by your physician(s)
- your overall health and medical history
- extent of the allergic disease
- your tolerance for specific medications
- expectations for the course of the
- your opinion or preference
You should also consult your physician
before taking any over-the-counter medications for allergy or asthma.
For people who suffer with asthma and
allergies, there are many effective medications for treatment of symptoms.
This is a brief overview of the most commonly used types of medications:
What are antihistamines?
Antihistamines are used to
relieve or prevent the symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and other
allergies. They work by preventing the effects of histamine, a substance
produced by the body during an allergic reaction. Antihistamines come in
tablet, capsule, liquid, or injection form and are available both
over-the-counter and by prescription.
Many antihistamines cause drowsiness, but
newer ones (terfenadine, astemazole, loratadine, and others) rarely cause
this side effect. Other common side effects include dry mouth, difficult
urination, constipation and confusion. Some people may experience
nightmares, unusual excitement or nervousness, restlessness or
What are decongestants?
Decongestants are used to
treat nasal congestion and other symptoms associated with colds and
allergies. They work by narrowing blood vessels, leading to the clearing
of nasal congestion. Decongestants are available both over-the-counter and
by prescription. The most commonly used forms are liquid and tablet. Nose
sprays or drops may be used for acute situations, but should be used for
only a few days in a row, or as prescribed by your physician.
Over-the-counter nasal sprays, if used for a prolonged period of time, may
cause "rebound rhinitis" or nasal congestion symptoms.
Decongestants may cause nervousness,
sleeplessness, or elevation in blood pressure. If the nasal spray form is
used too long, it may cause even more nasal congestion.
What are types of inhaled
also called steroidal anti-inflammatory agents,
reduce the inflammation in the airways. They reduce the number of mast
cells in the nose, and lessen the swelling and mucus production. They
may be prescribed in an oral or inhaled form.
Long-term oral corticosteroid use may cause side effects such as
ulcers, weight gain, cataracts, weakening bones, high blood pressure,
elevated blood sugar, and easy bruising.
Possible side effects from inhaled
anti-inflammatory medications include coughing and hoarseness.
- Cromolyn sodium is a preventive nasal
spray used for inhibiting the start of allergic rhinitis. It works on
stopping the release of histamine from the mast cells. Another example
Bronchodilators are used to relieve
coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and difficulty in breathing.
They work by opening up the bronchial tubes -- the air passages in the
lungs -- so that more air can flow through.
They come in inhaled, tablet, capsule,
liquid, or injectable forms. Bronchodilators may cause nausea, vomiting,
headache, nervousness, restlessness, and insomnia, especially in elderly
patients and children who are more sensitive to the effects of
Talk with your physician for more
information before taking any asthma or allergy medications.