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How do I Choose the Best Nasal Antihistamine?

By Ann Olson
Updated May 17, 2024
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To choose the best nasal antihistamine, it's important to consider your current medical status, the current drugs or supplements you take, and your age. Not all antihistamines contain the same active ingredients, and some formulations are safer for people with certain conditions. You should consider possible side effects as well; many antihistamines cause drowsiness, so they might not be a good choice for all users. These effects should be considered when choosing a nasal antihistamine, along with its effectiveness and quickness of action.

A nasal antihistamine is sometimes preferred over an oral antihistamine because of its rapid action. Unlike pills, these antihistamines are sprayed directly onto the membranes, where they are absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream. Not all nasal sprays are effective — or safe — for everybody, however.

It is important to note that not all nasal antihistamines contain the same active ingredients. For example, some antihistamines contain the active ingredient olopatadine, which can cause people to feel sleepy or drowsy. This effect is multiplied in patients who take other drugs that cause sleepiness, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, or sleeping medications. Although sleepiness is common in most antihistamines, some sprays can multiply the side effects of other drugs.

There is also the age of the person using the nasal antihistamine to consider. Some types of nasal antihistamine are not safe for children, especially those under the age of 12. Their bodies may not be developed enough, causing these medications to act differently than they would in adult bodies. Some nasal sprays may offer child versions of the same product, which may contain a slightly altered formula that is safer for them.

The antihistamine's general side effects are also important, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition, such as chronic migraines or a gastrointestinal disorder. Most nasal antihistamines can cause drowsiness and impaired thinking, which may affect your ability to work or study. The direct action of these antihistamines can also cause your nose to bleed, which could be dangerous if you have a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia.

Other effects can be distracting, but not serious or a direct danger to your health. For example, azelastine can make you gain weight, feel nauseous, or make your throat sore temporarily. Usually halting the use of this spray will stop these symptoms, but it may linger on even after its use is ended.

Usually nasal sprays work faster than oral solutions, but certain drugs may prevent them from working right. According to some experts, a nasal antihistamine will usually work within 30 minutes of use, but this isn't a guarantee, especially if you are taking certain drugs, herbs, or supplements that inhibits their actions. How you use them can also prevent their action; not spraying these solutions correctly in the nose can limit their efficacy, for example.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Heavanet — On Sep 11, 2014

@raynbow- I have to take a nasal antihistamine in the spring and fall months when the pollen in the air is at its highest levels. I have found that taking my medication with a meal helps me to be less tired.

Getting plenty of sleep at night also reduces the drowsiness that is a common side effect of nasal antihistamines.

If you try different tips to reduce your tiredness after taking your medication but your symptoms don't improve, you need to make a visit to your doctor to discuss this problem. There are different types of nasal antihistamines available, so another medication that causes less severe side effects may be the answer for you.

By Ocelot60 — On Sep 10, 2014

@raynbow- If possible, you should try to take your nasal antihistamine before you go to bed. Not only will this prevent drowsiness during the day, but taking it before bedtime will also help you get a good night's sleep.

By Raynbow — On Sep 10, 2014

I am very prone to nasal allergies, and recently began taking a nasal antihistamine for my symptoms. My only problem with this drug is that it makes me very tired and sleepy during the day when I'm trying to get work done. I'm looking for tips to combat this uncomfortable side effect so I can continuing taking the nasal antihistamine, since the medication does help me feel better otherwise.

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