Hay Fever Drugs

Written by the Healthline Editorial Staff | Published on October 20, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD on October 20, 2014

Antihistamines

First-generation antihistamines may be used for relief of minor symptoms. These drugs may cause drowsiness or performance impairment and are best used at bedtime. First generation antihistamines include:

  • brompheniramine (Dimetapp)
  • dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)
  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Sominex)
  • doxylamine (Vicks NyQuil)

The side effects of first-generation antihistamines can be undesirable. Second-generation antihistamines have fewer or no such effects and are now recommended by many doctors. Two second-generation antihistamines are available over the counter at local pharmacies: cetirizine (Zyrtec) and loratadine (Alavert, Claritin).

Second-generation antihistamines include desloratadine (Clarinex) and fexofenadine (Allegra).

If your doctor prescribes or recommends an antihistamine, you should ask about its common side effects.

Decongestants

Oral or nasal decongestants can reduce congestion but may cause side effects like heart palpitationsanxiety, and insomnia. These may include:

  • oxymetazoline (Afrin, Vicks Sinex)
  • pseudoephedrine (Actifed, Sudafed)
  • phenylephrine (Alka-Seltzer Cold Effervescent, Benadryl Allergy & Sinus, Dayquil, Robitussin CF, Tylenol Sinus)

Corticosteroids

When used as a topical medication, these drugs work slower than antihistamines. However, as seasonal allergies progress, they can ultimately decrease the number of days of allergy symptoms because they last longer and reduce ongoing inflammation. Corticosteroids can be prescribed as an inhaler or as a nasal spray. Some of these include:

  • beclomethasone (Beclovent)
  • fluticasone furoate (Veramyst)
  • fluticasone propionate (Flonase)
  • mometasone (Nasonex)

Leukotriene Modifiers

This class of drug blocks immune system chemicals that cause allergy symptoms like overproduction of mucus. One example is montelukast (Singulair).

Other Drugs

There are a few other, less common drugs that are sometimes used to treat hay fever.

Cromolyn sodium is available as a nasal spray (NasalCrom) and as an eye drop (Crolom), and relieves symptoms by preventing the release of histamines.Ipratropium (Atrovent) prevents the glands in your nose from producing excess fluids, and can be effective in treating a severe runny nose. 

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