There are many medications available for treating symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itching. These medications come in many forms: oral tablets, liquid medication, nasal sprays, eyedrops, and injections.
Corticosteroids that come in the form of a nasal spray are especially effective for treating allergic rhinitis. They can significantly reduce nasal congestion, as well as sneezing, itching, and runny nose. These sprays are designed to avoid the side effects that may occur from corticosteroids taken by mouth or injection. The most common side effects of intranasal corticosteroids are local irritation and nosebleeds.
Antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergic rhinitis. Histamine is the chemical in the body primarily responsible for causing the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Antihistamines counter the effects of histamine. They are available as eyedrops, nasal sprays, oral tablets, and liquid medication. Some antihistamines are available over-the-counter, while others require a prescription. Some people find that an antihistamine becomes less effective as the allergy season worsens or as their allergies change over time. Antihistamines are classified into two groups: sedating and non-sedating. As the name implies, sedating antihistamines cause sedation, or drowsiness. Although rare, non-sedating antihistamines can also have a sedative effect. Another common side effect of antihistamines is excessive dryness of mouth, nose, and eyes. There are many other possible side effects, but they are less common.
Decongestants help relieve stuffiness and pressure caused by inflamed nasal tissue. They are available in over-the-counter and prescription forms and are often found in combination with antihistamines or other medications. Decongestants can cause side effects, including urinary problems in men with an enlarged prostate and insomnia, especially if the medication is taken in the afternoon or evening. Other side effects depend on whether the decongestant is in nasal spray or oral medication form.
Leukotriene is another substance in the body that can cause symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Leukotriene inhibitors block the action of leukotriene.
Immunotherapy may be a treatment option for people who don't respond well to other medications. There are two types of immunotherapy: allergy shots and sublingual tablets. Allergy shots are usually administered over the course of a three- to five-year treatment program. Injections of a diluted allergy extract are given in increasing doses until a maintenance dose is reached. This helps the body build resistance to the effects of the allergen and reduces the intensity of symptoms caused by allergen exposure. Sublingual, or under-the-tongue, tablets are a form of immunotherapy in which patients dissolve a tablet under the tongue daily, starting several months before allergy season begins. Treatment can continue for up to three years.