Your first line of defense should be avoidance; make all efforts to circumvent your allergens. However, if you cannot avoid triggering allergens by where you go, through wearing filtration masks, or by dust-proofing your room or home, you will likely have to turn to medications to help you control or eliminate allergic rhinitis. Medication and desensitization (immunotherapy) are the two principle treatments for allergic rhinitis.
Immunotherapy is a therapy where injections of tiny amounts of allergens are given regularly over the course of three to five years. Eventually, your body gets used to the allergens, lessening your symptoms and decreasing the need for medication. Ask your doctor to find out if immunotherapy is right for you.
Drugs to treat the symptoms of allergic rhinitis primarily include antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroids. Antihistamines work by surpressing histamine production in your body, and are useful in providing relief from all minor symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Oral or nasal decongestants reduce congestion. Corticosteroids, in either an inhaler or nasal spray form, work more slowly than antihistamines, but can be more effective because they last longer and reduce ongoing sensitization. Learn more about medication options for treating hay fever.