New medications for allergies: 3 options
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are popular for managing allergies, such as those from seasonal pollen and pet dander. Examples often include corticosteroids, antihistamine medications, and more advanced prescription injectable treatments to prevent severe allergic reactions.
There are currently several new-generation allergy medications on the market, which have many benefits, such as being non-drowsy. However, like all medications, they can carry certain risks and side effects.
Mometasone (Nasonex) is a corticosteroid medication. These are anti-inflammatory medications that reduce the activity of your immune system. Mometasone is available as a nasal spray and can be purchased OTC at pharmacies and drug stores.
It was originally approved for use to prevent severe asthma flare–ups. However, in 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use for managing symptoms of allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever.
Mometasone can help soothe the inflammation that occurs in your nose as a result of allergic rhinitis, which produces the cold-like symptoms you notice if you experience hay fever.
According to a 2016 review, mometasone is a safe and effective way of managing allergy symptoms that cause a runny or itchy nose and can even help relieve eye symptoms. Due to the topical application of the nasal spray, it’s generally considered safe for long–term use if taken as your doctor prescribes.
Doctors recommend up to 2 sprays per nostril of mometasone within 24 hours. Like any medication, there are some risks of side effects, although this is rare with mometasone. Side effects may include:
- an unpleasant taste in the mouth
If you experience any of the following more severe side effects, you should seek medical help as soon as possible:
- damage to your nose, such as sores
- trouble breathing
- changes to your eyesight (such as glaucoma)
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Fexofenadine (Allegra) is a second-generation antihistamine, which means it is a newer type of medication. It can help treat symptoms of allergies, from hay fever to atopic dermatitis. It is available OTC as an oral tablet or liquid solution.
The benefit of second-generation antihistamines is that they do not induce drowsiness because they do not cross the blood-brain barrier, unlike first-generation antihistamines. They are also safer for long-term use due to the lack of effect on your heart and cardiovascular system.
According to a review from 2021, not only does fexofenadine appear to be safer, but it is more effective at managing symptoms of allergic rhinitis and has greater treatment satisfaction.
Possible side effects include:
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Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)
SLIT is a new type of allergy medication and line of treatment that can be very effective for treating seasonal allergies.
It is an alternative method to delivering a similar medication to allergy shots. It involves administering small doses of the allergen under your tongue. Unlike antihistamines or corticosteroids, SLIT or allergy drops treat the allergy instead of just managing symptoms.
You will need to take these drops once a day for 3 years. Medicare does not yet cover allergy drops.
Over time, this can prevent symptoms of allergic rhinitis, like a runny nose and congestion, by building your body’s tolerance to the allergen. Allergy drops also see fewer side effects than allergy shots.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), the FDA only approves allergy drops for treating allergies to the following:
Side effects may occur within the first week of treatment and may include:
- throat irritation
- itchiness inside your mouth or lips
- tongue sores
- swelling of your tongue
In some severe instances, anaphylaxis may occur, in which case you should call 911 immediately.
Alternative treatment options
If you do not want to take medication to help manage your allergies, there are a wide range of alternatives you can try at home.
The most effective thing you can do is avoid the allergens that trigger your symptoms. If you are unsure what exactly triggers your allergies, a doctor can give you an allergy test to determine what you are allergic to. This will make it easier for you to avoid those substances.
Some natural at-home remedies for allergies that you may want to try include:
- Acupuncture: According to a review from 2022, acupuncture helps reduce the severity of nasal allergy symptoms and is comparable to the medications cetirizine (Zyrtec) or loratadine (Claritin).
- Probiotics: Probiotics are live microorganisms that you can take to improve your gut health. A 2021 review found a connection between probiotic use and less severe allergy symptoms. However, the data was mixed, and further research is still needed.
- Saline irrigation: Sinus rinsing is the process of washing your nasal passages with saltwater. This can clear out allergens, mucus, and other debris that could be irritating your sinuses.
There is a growing selection of new-generation allergy medications that can help you manage symptoms. These medications typically lead to fewer side effects and are generally safer than older allergy medications.
SLIT allergy drops are the only medications that can actually treat allergies to prevent future symptoms.
If you do not want to take medications, acupuncture, probiotics, and saline irrigations may effectively manage allergy symptoms like those from allergic rhinitis.
Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.
- Fexofenadine (2021). https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/fexofenadine/
- He M, et al. (2022). Acupuncture for allergic rhinitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. https://eurjmedres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40001-022-00682-3
- Highlights of prescribing information. (2022). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2022/020762s056lbl.pdf
- Lopez-Santamarina A, et al. (2021). Probiotics as a possible strategy for the prevention and treatment of allergies. A narrative review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8064452/
- Meltzer E, et al. (2021). Fexofenadine: A review of safety, efficacy and unmet needs in children with allergic rhinitis. https://aacijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13223-021-00614-6
- Mometasone nasal spray. (2020). https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/mometasone-nasal-spray
- Passali D, et al. (2016). Mometasone furoate nasal spray: A systematic review. https://mrmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40248-016-0054-3
- Ragwitek (2022). https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/allergenics/ragwitek
- Risks and rewards of nasal rinses: What you need to know. (2022). https://www.uclahealth.org/news/risks-and-rewards-of-nasal-rinses-what-you-need-to-know
- SLIT (2017). https://acaai.org/allergies/management-treatment/allergy-immunotherapy/slit/