You can’t go outside without sneezing, your nose won’t stop running, and you have this urge to keep itching your eyes.
© Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock
These are the symptoms of seasonal allergies, otherwise known as hay fever. Most likely, yours are caused by pollen from certain types of trees, grasses, or weeds.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to avoid pollen triggers. But there are a wide range of home remedies, medications, and long-term treatments that can help relieve your symptoms.
Here’s what you need to know to get your seasonal allergies under control.
Seasonal allergies treatment
It’s not always possible to fully get rid of your allergies — but there are many ways you can relieve or manage your symptoms.
If you’re looking to relieve your symptoms fast, Insider Reviews has a buying guide for the best allergy medicine and home remedies, including:
- Antihistamines, like Claritin or Zyrtec
- Nasal sprays, like Flonase
- Sinus rinse kits
- Home air purifiers
- Facial tissues with lotion
The type of medicine or remedies you’ll need will depend on your symptoms. Here’s how to know when you should use each type of treatment.
Types of allergy medicine
Over-the-counter allergy medicine is one of the most common and effective treatments for seasonal allergies.
These are the main differences between each type of allergy medicine:
Antihistamines are the first-line defense for seasonal allergies. When you have an allergic reaction, your body releases histamines, which cause the main allergy symptoms.
Antihistamines counteract these histamines — hence the name antihistamine — and can help you stop sneezing, or get rid of a runny nose. These oral antihistamine medications are widely available over-the-counter.
If you want to clear a stuffy nose with allergies, you might want to try a decongestant.
Decongestants can help clear nasal congestion by shrinking the blood vessels in your nose, allowing you to breathe more easily. They are widely available over-the-counter, and common examples include Mucinex or Sudafed.
In fact, some allergy medications offer both antihistamine and decongestant, all-in-one. These combination medicines often have a ‘D’ at the end — like Claritin-D or Allegra-D.
Other home remedies, like a neti pot, can also clear your sinuses and reduce nasal congestion.
Nasal sprays can reduce nasal congestion, and may be used to relieve a stuffy nose, runny nose, or sneezing.
There are many different types of nasal sprays. For allergies, you should consider:
- Nasal saline rinses, made of water and salt, are available over the counter and can be used to immediately clear stuffiness.
- Corticosteroids, like Flonase, are available over the counter or as a prescription, and need to be used for 10 to 14 days to effectively resolve congestion.
- Antihistamine nasal sprays, like Astepro, are available over the counter and will start working in about 30 minutes, but doctors sometimes recommend daily use.
Eye drops may be necessary if your allergies especially affect your eyes. This is called allergic conjunctivitis, and its symptoms include:
- Itchiness in the white of the eye, the inner corner of the eyes, or along the eyelids
- Redness in the white of the eye
- Watery discharge from the eyes
- Itchiness and swelling on the skin around the eyes
If you suffer from allergic conjunctivitis, you should talk with your doctor about choosing the right eye drops for your allergies.
Choosing the right allergy medicine
Sometimes, you may need a combination of these medications to resolve all your allergy symptoms, but you should check in with your doctor first.
If over-the-counter medication doesn’t resolve your allergy symptoms, your doctor may also recommend a stronger version of these drugs, which may require a prescription.
If none of these treatment methods work, you may want to consider allergy shots.
Allergy shots, also called immunotherapy, are a series of low-dose allergen injections that can decrease your sensitivity to allergies and reduce your symptoms over time.
Immunotherapy is a long-term commitment — you’ll typically receive shots over a period of three to five years — but they can be very effective at managing seasonal allergy symptoms when they flare up.
If your allergy symptoms are severely impacting your life, and you can’t control them with home remedies or medication, allergy shots may be worth it. Talk to your doctor to see if immunotherapy is right for you.