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What are the Different Types of Allergy Medicine?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Just as there are many different types of allergies, it is possible to find allergy medicine that is helpful in managing just about any type of allergic reaction that exists. Since there are no cures for the various types of allergies, there is not one ideal allergy medication that will work in every case. Fortunately, there are over the counter as well as prescription only options that can provide a great deal of relief.

With over the counter allergy medicine, the most common variety would be those products known as antihistamines. An antihistamine works by reversing the effects of a histamine on a receptor site, thus minimizing or completely alleviating the symptoms and discomfort brought on by the allergic reaction. These over the counter products help with stuffy or runny noses, headaches, sneezing, or minor breathing difficulties that may be triggered by allergies to animal dander, dust, or other irritants.

The histamine blocker is another type of allergy medicine that can help with other types of allergy symptoms, such as a sour stomach and other gastrointestinal distress. Blockers can be used to deal with peptic ulcers, reflux issues, and similar discomforts that are triggered by an allergic reaction to foods or some type of exterior element. The most powerful histamine blockers are normally by prescription only, although there are some exceptions.

Decongestants are compounds that may be used in conjunction with antihistamines or alone, depending on the type of allergy that is present. Allergy medicine of this type may be in a liquid form, such as eyewash or a nasal spray. There are also decongestants in pill and capsule form. Typically, the pills and capsules are designed for more long time use than the liquids and sprays.

Steroids can also be used as allergy medicine, often in the form of corticosteroids. They are helpful in dealing with inflammations, cold-like symptoms and difficulty breathing. Steroids may be in capsule or pill form, as sprays, or liquid drops. In most countries, a physician must prescribe this type of allergy medicine.

Bronchodilators are a form of allergy medicine that is inhaled to bring about quick relief. They are usually employed with breathing problems such as asthma attacks. Some forms are for short-term use while others may provide relief for up to twelve hours. As with steroids, medicine of this kind must be prescribed by a doctor.

There is the possibility of side effects with any kind of allergy medicine. Skin irritations, sore throats, headaches and other minor discomforts may appear after the medication is used for a period of time. In some instances, the symptoms may be quite severe. If you are prescribed an allergy medicine by your doctor, note any side effects and discuss them with your doctor as soon as possible.

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.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGEEK, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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