How are allergies treated?

How are allergies treated?

Although avoiding the allergen is an important treatment approach, it usually does not completely end the allergic reaction.

Medications such as antihistamines (e.g., Allegra®, Zyrtec®), decongestants (eg, Sudafed®, Contact®), or a combination of over-the-counter and prescription medications, are used to treat allergy symptoms. Nasal sprays such as topical nasal steroids (e.g., Flonase®, Nasonex®), cromolyn sodium, and topical nasal antihistamines also can be used to treat allergy symptoms.

Asthma medications, which reduce allergy symptoms, include:

  • Inhaled bronchodilators.
  • Inhaled steroids.
  • Oral bronchodilators (theophylline).
  • Oral anti-leukotrienes (Singulair [montelukast], zafirlukast [Accolate®] and zyflo [Zileuton®]).
  • Injected medications, including an antibody such as omalizumab (Xolair®).

Immunotherapy (“allergy shot therapy”) or allergy oral immunotherapy is recommended for symptoms that are not adequately controlled with a combination of avoidance measures and regular medication use. This shot has been shown to be effective in properly selected patients with allergic rhinitis and/or allergic asthma.

Another treatment option is saline irrigation using a sinus rinse kit. These rinse kits (e.g., Neilmed®) are sold over-the-counter or can be made at home. To make your own rinse, combine one-half teaspoon non-iodinated salt with one-half teaspoon baking soda in 8 ounces of distilled or boiled water. This mixture rinses out allergens and decreases the amount of inflammation (edema) they cause.