Which Allergy Medication is Best for You? Making it Through Allergy Season With the Right Medication

Whether you experience allergies seasonally or year-round, you know that allergy symptoms can be debilitating. Many people use allergy medication to help treat their symptoms, but with dozens of options, how do you know which one is right for you? Over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications come in many different forms, like pills, liquids, nasal sprays, eyedrops, and shots (injections).To know which allergy medication is best for you, it’s important to know your options and also know what works best for your symptoms. 

What are the Different Types of Allergy Medication?


Antihistamines help prevent and treat allergy symptoms by blocking a chemical called “histamines.” Histamines are produced by the immune system to remove allergens from the body and are what cause allergy symptoms, like sneezing and watery eyes.


Decongestants decrease swelling and inflammation to help relieve congestion. Decongestants may raise blood pressure, so patients with cardiovascular disease, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, or glaucoma should talk to their doctor before taking a decongestant.  


Corticosteroids, also called steroids, work in a preventative way to keep allergy symptoms from developing. For people to get the most benefits from a corticosteroid, they must take the medication consistently, even when they don’t have allergy symptoms. Corticosteroids are a good option for people who experience allergies year-round. 

How Long Do Your Allergy Symptoms Last?

If you have seasonal allergies, an antihistamine or decongestant medication may work well for you. If you have allergies year-round, or almost daily, you’ll benefit from using a corticosteroid that works to prevent allergy symptoms from developing. 

Will the Medication Make You Drowsy?

Antihistamines may cause drowsiness, and may be best taken at night. If you need an antihistamine during the day, look for a non-drowsy antihistamine. Decongestants contain stimulants, which may make it difficult to sleep. Consider taking them during the day.  Steroids may also affect sleep and should be taken in the morning, rather than at night. 

When Should You Consider Allergy Shots?

If medications don’t help relieve allergy symptoms, or if you want to reduce the amount of allergy medication you take, immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be a good treatment option. Allergy shots may also be a good option for children and adults who have asthma that is worsened by pollen and other allergens. 

Allergy shots contain a very small amount of the allergen (the substance that triggers your allergy symptoms). Over time, your body builds a tolerance to the allergen and, as a result, you experience less intense or zero symptoms. To learn more about immunotherapy for allergies, click here

You May Need to Use A Combination of Medications

If one type of allergy medication doesn’t work to clear your symptoms, you may need a combination of medications. For example, you may need a decongestant and an antihistamine. Since each allergy medication can contain multiple ingredients, always ask your doctor or your pharmacist which medications can safely be taken together before combining.