The Ultimate Guide to Allergy Medications

The Ultimate Guide to Allergy Medications

Most allergies are easily treated with medication.

This guide will explain your allergy drug options, including a list of allergy drugs, what they do, and their generic and brand names.

Antihistamine Medications

For many years, antihistamine medications have been available and are used to treat allergy symptoms. They are available and can be taken as pills, liquid, nasal spray or eye drops. Over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops relieve red itchy eyes; pills and nasal sprays are used to treat the symptoms of seasonal or year-round allergies.

How do antihistamine medications work?

When you are exposed to an allergen, your immune system is triggered into action. Your mast cells (immune system cells) then release histamine which attaches to receptors in blood vessels causing them to enlarge. Histamine also binds to other receptors causing redness, swelling, itching and changes in secretions. Antihistamine medications block these histamine receptors, thereby preventing the symptoms of your allergic reactions.

If your symptoms do not go away with antihistamine medications alone, nasal corticosteroid sprays are generally safe and may work well. Decongestants in pill or nasal spray form can also help relieve a stuffy nose. However, nasal spray decongestants should not be used for more than several days at a time, because they may cause a “rebound” effect which worsens the congestion. Decongestants in pill form do not cause this problem.


Corticosteroids help and treat inflammations associated with allergies and allergic reactions


Decongestants relieve nasal and sinus congestion. Examples of antihistamine medications and nasal sprays are outlined below.

Over-the-Counter – “OTC” Allergy Medications

OTC Antihistamines in Pill Form
Brand Name Generic Name
Benadryl Diphenhydramine
Claritin Loratadine
Chlor-Trimeton Chlorpheniramine Maleate
Dimetane Prompheniramine, Phenylpropanolamine
Tavist Clemastine Fumarate
Zyrtec Cetirizine
Drixorol Dexbrompheniramine
OTC Eye Drops
OTC Eye Drop Antihistamines
Brand Name Generic Name
Ocu-Hist Naphazoline Hydrochloride,
Pheniramine Maleate
Visine-A, Opcon-A, & others Naphazoline

Prescription Allergy Medications

Prescription Antihistamines in Pill Form
Brand Name Generic Name
Allegra Fexofenadine
Clarinex RediTabs – available in disintegrating tablet, and syrop form
Eye Drops
Antihistamines Eye Drops
Brand Name Generic Name
Emadine Emedastine
Livostin Levocabastine
Albalon Naphazoline
Patanol Olopatadine
Mast Cell Stabilizer Eye Drops
Mast Cell Stabilizer Eye Drops – Mast cell stabilizer eye drops prevent the release of the symptom triggering chemical histamine. They reduce symptoms associated with hay fever and allergic conjunctivitis, such as inflammation, itching, watering, and burning of the eyes.
Brand Name Generic Name
Crolom Cromolyn Sodium
Alomide Lodoxamide
Alamast Pemirolast
Alocril Nedocromil
Corticosteroid Eye Drops
Corticosteroid Eye Drops are prescription medications used to treat severe allergy symptoms such as red, watery and itchy eyes caused by hay fever and allergic conjunctivitis. Generally used only for a short time period when other eye drops do not work.
Brand Name Generic Name
Decadron, Maxidex Dexamethasone
FML, Fluor-Op Fluorometholone
Pred Forte, Econopred Prednisolone
Nasal Sprays
Antihistamines Nasal Sprays
Brand Name Generic Name
Astelin Azelastine
Nasal Spray
Corticosteroid Nasal Spray
Brand Name Generic Name
Flonase & Veramyst Fluticasone
Nasonex Mometasone
Nasacort AQ Triamcinolone
Rhinocort Budesonide
Nasarel Flunisolide
Beconase Beclomethasone
NasalCrom Cromolyn Sodium
For hay fever symptoms: Cromolyn sodium also prevents the release of histamine.
Leukotriene Modifiers
Leukotriene Modifiers – Another medication option for allergy sufferers, particularly effective for those who also have asthma (although it is used to treat symptoms of hay fever as well) is leukotriene inhibitors. Leukotrienes are inflammatory chemicals released by your immune system (similar to the release of histamine) during an allergic reaction. The following medications are prescription leukotriene inhibitors approved for those with asthma and indoor and outdoor allergies:
Brand Name Generic Name
Singular Montelukast
Accolate Zafirlukast
Zyflo Zileuton

Click here to find out about allergy medication side effects.

Content Created/Medically Reviewed by our Expert Doctors