There are several drug treatments available for airborne allergies. These can be used on their own or in combination to provide a range of relief from the distressing symptoms of an allergy:
Anti-Inflammatory Nasal Sprays
The body manufactures a natural anti-inflammatory substance called cortisol. The corticosteroids used in nasal sprays are based on this natural substance but are chemically modified to make them more suitable for treating airborne allergy. They are very effective so only tiny doses are needed. They are designed to be metabolised quickly. This means that, after they have done their work in the nose, the body quickly breaks them down into inactive substances. When applied directly to the nose where allergic reactions start, anti-inflammatory nasal sprays are highly effective and have few side effects. Apart from a chemical similarity, the anti-inflammatory nasal sprays used to treat airborne allergies have no connection with other sorts of steroids. Other treatments are not as effective in relieving symptoms in the nose. Because they act at several points in the allergic process, anti-inflammatory nasal sprays relieve more of the symptoms of hayfever and airborne allergies. Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays are recommended as first line treatment for airborne allergies and can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy. Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays work best when they have the opportunity to stop the build-up of inflammation in the nose.
Antihistamines work best to control symptoms that are a direct result of histamine release ? sneezing, runny and itchy nose. However, other parts of the allergic process are not directly related to histamine. Antihistamines, therefore, are less effective than some other treatments in controlling nasal congestion and the blocked-up, groggy feeling. Older types of antihistamines can cause drowsiness in some people. This can be an advantage if the allergy is disturbing sleep. Doctors usually use newer non-sedating antihistamines for most people now. Antihistamines can be bought over-the-counter from a pharmacy.
Anti-Allergic Eye Drops
Cromones such as cromoglycate and nedocromil stabilise mast cells (which release histamine and other chemicals during an allergic reaction), reduce the release of histamine that follows an allergic reaction. Eye drops can relieve the symptoms of itchy eyes and are used as preventative medication. Cromones have a good safety profile and are suitable for young children or pregnant women. Overall, these medicines are less effective than antihistamines and anti-inflammatory nasal sprays. Nevertheless, cromone eye drops are very useful for protecting against itchy eyes. They only last a short time and need to be used several times a day.
Desensitising Allergy Injections
Repeated exposure to whatever causes the allergy can ease the reaction. It's like being vaccinated against an allergy. This treatment is usually for the most severe cases when recommended by your GP.
When to Consult a Doctor
If over-the-counter remedies don't help, see your doctor who may refer you to an allergy specialist who will be able to find out what's causing your allergy and recommend suitable treatment. If your symptoms are having a serious effect on your day-to-day life, consult your doctor. Also if you are experiencing chesty symptoms such as wheezing you should see your doctor to make sure that you don't have asthma.