Treating allergies & asthma.
There are nearly as many medications out there to treat allergies and asthma as there are allergens. The chart below provides information
on some of the most commonly used over-the-counter and prescribed medications.
Type of Medication Brand/Generic Available
Name as ...
Antihistamines. Counter the effects of histamine.
Best for allergies.
Long-acting antihistamines tablets, Allegra Prescription
liquid. Take longer to kick in but (fexofenadine), and over-
less likely to make you drowsy than Claritin (loratadine) the-counter
short-acting antihistamines. Clarinex
Short-acting antihistamines Benadryl Prescription
tablets, liquid. Work quickly but (diphenhydramine), and over-
may have side effects including Chlor-Trimeton, the-counter
Antihistamine nasal spray. Works Astelin (azelastine) Prescription
fast but with more side effects
than long-acting oral
Mucus thinners/decongestants. Reduce swelling and congestion.
Best for allergies.
Tablets, liquids, drops GuaifedPD, EntexLA, Over-the-
DuraVENT, Exgest LA, counter
Mast cell stabilizers. Prevent the release of histamine
from mast cells. Best for
Nasal sprays Nasalcrom (cromolyn Over-the-
Nebulizer (for asthma) Intal (cromolyn Prescription
Corticosteroids. Reduce the inflammatory reactions
that mark allergies and asthma.
Nasal. Primarily used for Flonase Prescription
Vancenase DS or
Inhaled. Primarily used for asthma. AeroBid Prescription
Vanceril, Vanceril DS
Oral corticosteroids. Only used for Prednisone, Medrol Prescription
Bronchodilators. Keep the large and small airways of
the lungs open. Prescribed for
Short-acting, B-2 agonists. Also Proventil HFA and Prescription
called "rescue medication." Used to Ventolin HFA
avert an asthma attack. If used (albuterol), Xopenex
several times a week, your asthma (levalbuterol)
is not being controlled well. Comes
in inhaled and nebulized forms. Primatene Mist Over-the-
Long-acting. Not to be started in Serevent Diskus Prescription
the midst of an attack. (salmeterol
of fluticasone and
Theophylline. Relaxes bronchial airways.
Prescribed for asthma but rarely
Tablets, capsules, liquid Numerous brand names, Prescription
Leukotriene modifiers. Inhibit release of leukotriene
molecules from inflammatory cells.
Primarily for asthma, sometimes
Tablets Accolate Prescription
Anticholinergics. Block the effects of chemicals that
stimulate mucus production.
Primarily for allergies, sometimes
Nasal spray Atrovent .03% or .06% Prescription
Inhaled Atrovent (ipratropium Prescription
In combination with antihistamine Chlorpheniramine, Prescription
Anti-IgE. Blocks the IgE antibody that
stimulates an allergic reaction.
Primarily used for allergic asthma.
Injection Xolair (omalizumab) Prescription
Immunotherapy shots. A series of shots given over
several years that gradually
increases your tolerance to a