Choosing an over-the-counter allergy medication

The options can be confusing. Try this approach when symptoms start to develop.


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If you're struggling with allergy symptoms, you may assume you can resolve them with an over-the-counter (OTC) remedy. And that may be true. Many pharmaceutical-grade allergy drugs once available only by prescription are now as easy to buy as aspirin. But that development forces you to become a doctor in the drugstore aisle as you try to figure out which product is right for you. "People often make the wrong decision about which medication to take and they wind up being undertreated. They try a mix of medications, but don't get relief," says Dr. Ahmad Sedaghat, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

What causes allergies?

Before choosing a medication, it helps to understand what's causing your allergies. Often it's a matter of inhaling a harmless substance, such as pollen or another allergen, which the immune system mistakenly perceives as a dangerous invader.

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