Itchy, red, watery eyes? Runny nose? Yep, you may be suffering from allergies.
When you have allergies, you may be sensitive to a variety of common substances, such as pollen, mold, animal dander, or dust. Seasonal allergies, often referred to as “hay fever,” are caused by reactions to types of pollen found in trees, grass, flowers, and weeds. When exposed to any of these pollens, an allergy sufferer may experience sneezing and runny nose (allergic rhinitis), itchy or watery eyes (allergic conjunctivitis), itching of the skin, or hives. Allergy medicines, most of which are known as antihistamines, relieve allergy symptoms. Some antihistamines also treat some symptoms of the common cold such as runny nose and sneezing.
Colds are a separate health condition but have some similar symptoms to allergies. Unsure if your symptoms point to a cold or allergies? Decode your symptoms and read tips from Val Jones, M.D.
Allergy products, like all over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, contain certain active ingredients that make them work in the human body. The product’s active ingredients, including how much of a substance is in each dose, are listed first on the Drug Facts label. There are two basic types of allergy medicines: antihistamines and nasal allergy symptom controllers.
Antihistamines: During an allergic reaction, the body releases a chemical called histamine, which can cause your nose and eyes to swell and become runny or itchy. Sometimes your skin can break out in hives or an itchy rash. Antihistamines work by blocking these allergic symptoms.
Antihistamine active ingredients in OTC allergy medicines include:
Allergy medicines may also contain other active ingredients to treat related symptoms, such as nasal congestion or headache. Oral allergy medicines containing antihistamines are available in liquid or pill form, as well as eye drops.
Nasal Allergy Symptom Controllers (Nasal Sprays): Like antihistamines, nasal allergy symptom controllers (also known as mast cell stabilizers) can also reduce the effects of histamine, but in a different way. Nasal allergy symptom controllers reduce how much histamine is released into the body when you have an allergic reaction. Nasal allergy symptom controllers containing cromolyn sodium are applied directly inside the nose and are available in the form of nasal sprays.