Font Size

Indoor Allergens (cont.)

Indoor Allergies Treatment

The single best thing you can do is remove the allergen from your environment (see Prevention). A variety of medications can be used to treat hay fever, eye symptoms, and asthma.

Self-Care at Home

Nonprescription antihistamine medication such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) by mouth reduces the itch and watery eyes. Caution - these medications may make you too drowsy to drive or operate machinery safely. They can interfere with concentration or with children's learning at school. They are to be used for a few days only.

Medical Treatment

If symptoms do not improve, your physician may prescribe one or more medications. The medications do not cure the allergy, but relieve symptoms.

Allergy Medications

  • Antihistamines include older antihistamines, also called first-generation antihistamines, and newer second-generation antihistamines.
    • First-generation antihistamines: Most of these antihistamines are available without a prescription, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), clemastine (Tavist), and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton Allergy). These older antihistamines are more likely to cause drowsiness. Depending on the product, the duration of action is often shorter than newer antihistamines and may necessitate taking the drug 3-4 times each day. These older antihistamines are more likely to cause dry mouth, urinary retention, constipation, and blurred vision.
    • Second-generation antihistamines: These antihistamines are also referred to as nonsedating antihistamines. Most are available over the counter, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), desloratadine (Clarinex), and fexofenadine (Allergra). They can be taken over the long term with minimal side effects and are unlikely to cause sleepiness. The nonsedating antihistamines are convenient to take since they are taken once or twice daily. They may allow you to carry on with your normal activities more easily than older first-generation antihistamines.
  • Decongestants are also available to decongest the nose when it is stuffy. Do not use decongestant nose sprays (such as Afrin) for more than 3 days, otherwise nasal congestion will reoccur.
  • Antiallergy eye drops: These may relieve severe itching, tearing, redness, or swelling of the eyes.
  • Corticosteroid nasal spray usually works better than do antihistamines. Corticosteroid nasal sprays relieve the congestion and swelling of the lining of the nose. These sprays take a few days to work and are best used every day to be most effective. They are safe to use because so little medicine is necessary for relief.
  • Corticosteroids (such as prednisone, methylprednisolone) are prescription medications taken by injection or by mouth that reduce inflammation and symptoms such as swelling.
  • Mast cell inhibitors, such as cromolyn sodium nose spray and eyedrops, may also be used to prevent histamine release and provide treatment locally for runny nose or watery eyes.
  • Leukotriene inhibitors, such as montelukast (Singulair) are starting to be used to prevent allergic symptoms. These are particularly useful for individuals whose asthma is easily triggered by allergies.

See Understanding Allergy and Hay Fever Medications for more information.

Other Therapy

Allergy shots: These are given to some people who have persistent and disruptive allergy symptoms.

  • The shots do not treat symptoms, but by altering the immune response, they prevent future allergic reactions. (This is referred to as allergen immunotherapy.)
  • Treatment involves a series of shots, each containing a slightly greater amount of the allergen(s) that cause the reaction.
  • Ideally, the person will become "desensitized" to the antigen(s) over time.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2017
Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Indoor Allergens

Asthma Asthma is a disease that affects the breathing passages of the learn more >>
Asthma FAQ
Asthma FAQs Asthma is a disease marked by inflammation of the airways that cause difficulty breathing. Ther are millions who suffer from this chronic disease, and this arti...learn more >>
Exercise-Induced Asthma
Exercise-Induced Asthma Oftentimes, exercise may trigger an learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Indoor Allergens:

Indoor Allergens - Patient Experience

Do you have problems with indoor allergens? Please describe your experience.

Indoor Allergens - Prevention

What steps have you taken to reduce your exposure to indoor allergens? Were the effective?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Indoor Aeroallergies »

John Bostock first described hay fever in 1819, butnot until 1873 didCharles Blackley recognize that pollens cause this disease.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary