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The most common medications for mild allergy relief help prevent runny noses, sneezing and itchiness.

How do antihistamines work?

The body can react to an allergen by producing substances called histamines, which can cause a runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat, rashes and itchy, watery eyes. Antihistamines work to lessen these symptoms by blocking the histamines in the body.

Can I limit sleepiness and other side effects?

You may be able to limit some side effects by choosing certain products, such as non-drowsy antihistamines or an over-the-counter glycerin mouth rinse to help ease dry mouth.



This widely used medications provide temporary relief of nasal, sinus and ear tube congestion.

How do decongestants work?

Decongestants help to shrink blood vessels and tissues in the nose that have become swollen because of allergies. Decongestants can help a stuffed nose, but they don't help relieve sneezing or itching.

What are common side effects?

Decongestants might cause a jittery or nervous feeling, a rapid heartbeat, a rise in blood pressure or effects that make it difficult to sleep.

Intranasal Steroid Sprays

These effective nasal sprays treat inflammation and help relieve congestion, sneezing and a runny or itchy nose.

How do intranasal steroid sprays work?

24 hour nasal allergy sprays are considered to be the most effective medication for people with moderate to severe nasal allergies. Sprays treat inflammation and help relieve nasal allergy symptoms, including congestion.

Are they available over the counter?

Nasacort, a 24 hour full prescription strength nasal allergy spray, is now available over the counter. Consult your pharmacist or doctor to see if this medication is right for you.

Eye Allergy Solutions

Eye drops help treat red "bloodshot" looking eyes, an itching or burning sensation, and puffy eyelids.

Which eye drops offer short-term relief?

Artificial-tear drops and sterile saline eye-rinse products flush allergens from the eye for short-term relief.

What products use an active ingredient to target symptoms?

Eye drops that contain antihistamines offer allergy eye relief. Others relieve symptoms with a combination of antihistamines and decongestants.

Caring for Kids' Allergies

What's the best way to manage my child's allergy symptoms?

Spring and fall are peak times for allergens like pollen. Help prevent allergy symptoms by limiting your child's outdoor time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when pollen counts are highest. Avoid tracking pollen in your home by leaving shoes at the door and changing your child's clothes immediately after coming in from outside. Reduce indoor allergens by keeping pets out of your child's bedroom, vacuuming often, keeping windows closed, and using air conditioning. Medications can also help.

Which allergy medicines can I give my child?

Only give medicine to your child that is for his or her age group. Your pediatrician or pharmacist can help you figure out which medicine and how much, if any, is best.

Here are some of the most common:

Steroid nasal sprays reduce swelling in the nasal passages and prevent and treat runny, stuffy noses, sneezing, and itching. Side effects may include bloody nose and nasal irritation.

Decongestants reduce swelling and can help with stuffiness. They come in nasal sprays, liquids, and pills and are available over the counter and with a prescription. Nasal spray decongestants should be used for only a few days at a time. Using them for longer can make your child's symptoms come back worse. Decongestants can make children hyper or have trouble sleeping.

Antihistamines are another option. When your child comes in contact with allergens, the body releases histamines, which bring on sneezing, itching, and a runny nose. Antihistamines block this response.

They come in liquids, melt-away tablets, and chewables. Some may cause sleepiness, so it's best to give them in the evening. Ask your pediatrician or pharmacist if it's OK to give nondrowsy antihistamines.

SOURCES: American Academy of Pediatrics: "Allergy Tips," "Corticosteroids," "Allergy Medicines."

Health Information from WebMD.(R) WebMD does not endorse any products or treatment.

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