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How do allergy and sinus medications work?

Allergy and sinus medications work in different ways. Some allergy medications block histamines, natural body chemicals that trigger a cascade of allergy symptoms. These “antihistamines” are either first generation antihistamines, which may make you drowsy, or second generation antihistamines, which are much less likely to make you drowsy. Antihistamines are available both over-the-counter and by prescription. Another common medication for allergies is decongestants, available over-the-counter, which ease the symptoms of a stuffy nose. If you have severe respiratory allergies or asthma, your doctor may give you other prescriptions for controller medications, bronchodilators, anti-IgE antibody or others. If your allergies cause sinus problems, you may find relief in decongestants, mucus-thinning drugs or simple salt-water nasal washes. If you have chronic allergy or sinus symptoms, see your doctor to determine what is best for you. Chronic sinus infections may require prescription antibiotics, nasal steroids or other prescription medications.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.