Antihistamines vs Nasal Sprays: What is the best medicine for sinus & allergy issues?

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Antihistamines vs Nasal Sprays: What is the best medicine for sinus & allergy issues?

Achieving Allergy Relief

Now that allergies happen all year in Arizona due to different types of pollen and desert plants, sufferers are looking for relief and treatment using over-the-counter medicines.

Antihistamines are just one type of over the counter medication that is used to relieve cold, sinus and allergy symptoms. Some are designed to relieve congestion in the sinus cavities, while others are used to suppress your cough or keep your airways open.

Antihistamines block the body's ability to produce histamine. Histamines work by trying to flush contaminants out of your nasal and sinus passages. This usually results in watery eyes, runny nose, irritation, and sneezing, just to name a few.

Benefits of Nasal Steroid Sprays for Allergies

Saline nasal irrigations daily will help wash allergens out of the nose before they have a chance to become engaged with the nasal mucous membranes.

Nasal steroid sprays such as Flonase® (fluticasone), Nasacort ®(triamcinolone) or Rhinocort® (budesonide)  and Sensimyst® will help to reduce nasal and sinus inflammation. These can be used in addition to oral antihistamines to treat upper respiratory allergies (sneezing, runny nose, etc.). They have few side effects but have been known to cause nosebleeds with extended use.

Benefits of Antihistamines for Allergies

Because antihistamines prevent the release of histamine, they dry up the excess fluids that lead to excessive tearing and a runny nose. Most antihistamines also include compounds that reduce the itching and irritation that can make your eyes feel as if they have sand in them. They inhibit the urge to sneeze and can also minimize irritation in the throat that leads to coughing.

Antihistamine medications should be taken once a day and will last for a full 24 hours. They have minimal side effects and can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. There are many different types of antihistamines on the market. The top four include:

  • Zyrtec® - Zyrtec (cetirizine), comes in both pill form and liquid capsule. It's used to treat upper respiratory allergies but is also effective for skin rashes and hives. It offers quick relief with few side effects or drug interactions.
  • Claritin® - Claritin (loratadine) is a popular allergy medication because it can be taken safely by both adults and children. It comes in pill form and is used to treat seasonal allergies, skin rashes, and hives. It offers few side effects and can be purchased over the counter or with a prescription.
  • Allegra®  (fexofenadine)

Remember that generics work just as well as brand-names. It's important that you read labels carefully so you only by the products that address your particular symptoms. If you have questions, always speak to your doctor or a specialist before you buy a particular product.

Using Allergy & Nasal Medications Under the Supervision of a Doctor

While antihistamines have been found to be safe for adults and children over the age of two, there are times when it's best to consult a physician.

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should only take over the counter medications, including antihistamines, under the direct supervision of a doctor. Once absorbed into the system, they can be relayed to the infant through breast milk. They can also have an impact on the growing fetus as the medication travels through your bloodstream.
  • Older adults may experience an increased risk of falls while taking antihistamines. Antihistamines can also make you dizzy or lightheaded, increasing your risk of stumbling or tripping.
  • No matter what your age, if you are required to drive for long periods of time or operate large pieces of machinery, you should only use antihistamines under the direct supervision of a doctor. In addition to causing drowsiness, they can also impair your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery.

Advice from the Sinus Surgeon himself (Dr. Gergits):

Medications. Start simple.

Personally, I recommend any patient with secondary conditions like asthma, sinusitis, or dizziness to use saline nasal washes and follow this with a steroid nasal spray, and then take an antihistamine. This is “aggressive” medical therapy which should help to reduce allergy symptoms, as well as the other more serious conditions that may worsen when allergies are bad.

Special Precautions

There are several special precautions you should be aware of, especially if you have any of the following health conditions:

  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma
  • Asthma
  • Liver disease

If you are currently being seen by a doctor for any of these medical issues, it's important that you discuss your concerns about antihistamines. They should work with you to find out what dosage, if any, is best suited for your needs- since there are many different types, and not every medication is the right one for everyone.

About Us:

At Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center of North Scottsdale, we make sure our patients have all of the information they need concerning over-the-counter and prescription medications they may be taking, or need in order to feel better. We know how uncomfortable allergies can be…  and have multiple solutions, allergy testing services, and allergy medications, that will get the relief you are looking for!

If you live in Phoenix Valley or Scottsdale, and have questions concerning sinus blockage or allergies and are having trouble finding the right antihistamines for your blocked sinuses or allergies, call 480-567-7098 or contact us today for an appointment.