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Why Are Nasal Sprays Better Than Oral Antihistamines?

Why Are Nasal Sprays Better Than Oral Antihistamines?

Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Shuba Iyengar, MD, MPH
Dr. Shuba Iyengar, MD, MPH
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Shuba completed medical school at Duke University, earning her MPH in tandem at UNC. After a research fellowship at the NIH, Shuba completed her residency at Stanford, then fellowship in allergy-immunology at Boston Childrens/Harvard.

Shuba returned to the Bay Area to join Dr. Bocian at a large multi-speciality health system where she helped lead an allergy practice. She cofounded Allermi to make expert allergy care more accessible for all.
Written by:
Katelyn Johnson, B.S., M.B.A, CMA
Katelyn Johnson, B.S., M.B.A, CMA
Katelyn Johnson is a freelance writer, Certified Medical Assistant, and Nationally Registered EMT with 8+ years of clinical experience across multiple specialties. She has a Bachelor’s in Biology, Master’s in Healthcare Administration, and is currently obtaining a Bachelor’s in Nursing. Katelyn is an advocate for providing patient education in an approachable way through online resources.

Best Allergy Medicine for Adults: Nasal Sprays vs. Oral Antihistamines

Seasonal allergies caused by pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold, or other environmental allergens plague millions of people each year. This often has everyone frantically searching what the best allergy medicine is for adults. 

After all, there are a ton of allergy medications available over the counter at any local pharmacy. Of course, OTC allergy medications aren’t the only option either as allergists can prescribe allergy meds you won’t find without a prescription. 

Regardless, with so many choices to get allergy relief, how do you know which one is best? Well, let’s break it down and compare them! 


Most Common Allergy Symptoms

Every allergy season, those suffering from seasonal allergies experience a wide range of allergy symptoms all at different levels of severity. Some of the most common allergy symptoms include a runny nose, itchy watery eyes, a stuffy nose or nasal congestion, and post-nasal drainage. 

All of these symptoms of seasonal allergies which are also referred to as allergic rhinitis or hay fever are quite annoying. This is why people are always searching for allergy relief.   


Types of OTC Allergy Medicine

Over-the-counter allergy medications can be divided into two main categories– oral antihistamines and nasal sprays. 


Oral Antihistamines

Most drug stores are stocked with a wide variety of allergy pills, mainly oral antihistamine pills

There are older antihistamines called first-generation antihistamines which are known for making you drowsy and lowering blood pressure and newer antihistamines called second-generation antihistamines. These newer antihistamines are popular because they offer 12 or 24-hour relief, make you less drowsy than older antihistamines, and are easy to just pop and go. 

First-generation antihistamines are those like Benedryl, whereas second-generation antihistamines are those such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), and fexofenadine (Allegra). 

Despite their popularity, for the most part, you will find that these OTC allergy medications make you “feel better” but don’t actually make the problem better. That is why some people feel the need to take them all the time, which we believe is never a good thing. They can also make some people feel “foggy” and cause other side effects since they are absorbed throughout the entire body.


Nasal Sprays

Most over-the-counter allergy nasal sprays are in the family of sprays called anti-inflammatory sprays. They are nasal steroid sprays that help prevent swelling and redness in your nasal passages. 

Some of the most common ones are Nasacort allergy spray and Flonase allergy mist. Though these are effective and great for long-term use, they often take weeks to have an effect, and for many people, this is not enough. 

We all want our runny nose and nasal congestion to go away as soon as possible! That is why when you see an allergist, they will prescribe another fast-acting prescription spray to go with the nasal steroid spray. They are a good complement to the slow-working nasal spray.  

The best part of nasal sprays for allergies is that unlike a pill such as Claritin, they treat the nasal passages directly versus being absorbed throughout your whole system. This causes fewer side effects and increases effectiveness as it treats the problem at the source. Some can even last 24 hours depending on the severity. 


Prescription Nasal Sprays

Let’s talk more about those prescription nasal sprays we mentioned above. Only a medical doctor (MD) can prescribe them, but it opens up opportunities to get even more effective allergy relief. These can include antihistamine nasal sprays like Azelastine, combination sprays, or something like Ipratroprium which when used as a nasal spray is amazing for a runny nose. 


Additional Allergy Treatments

Though oral medications and nasal sprays are by far the most common treatments for multiple allergy symptoms, there are other options. For itchy eyes, watery eyes, or both, eye drops are a great treatment because, like nasal sprays, they treat the problem directly.

Some people also opt for allergy shots which slowly introduce small amounts of allergens to your immune system so that it eventually stops the allergic reaction you have with them.


Which is the Best Allergy Medicine for Adults?

So now that we have covered all of the options in-depth, the question remains: Which one is the best allergy medicine for adults? Well, when you weigh the pros and cons, nasal sprays, specifically prescription nasal sprays, are the best choice for immediate and long-term allergy relief. They treat symptoms at the source, rarely cause any side effects, and can be targeted to your exact symptoms. 


Allermi: A Revolutionary Nasal Spray for Allergies

Why have a different nasal spray for each symptom? Nasal steroid sprays are great for nasal congestion, nasal antihistamine sprays are excellent for both a runny nose and nasal congestion, and Ipratroprium relieves a runny nose fast. 

With Allermi, your allergist will choose each active ingredient in your custom nasal spray based on your individual symptoms. That’s right, you only have to use one nasal spray to get quick and long-lasting allergy relief. Start your free 30-day trial today and see the difference Allermi can have on your seasonal allergies.