Allergies and Asthma

More than 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergies and/or asthma. Fortunately, there are many effective medications available to treat these conditions. The following information is intended to help asthma and allergy sufferers better understand the most commonly used types of medications. It is not intended as a specific recommendation for your treatment. You should consult your personal physician to choose the best treatment plan for control of your allergies and asthma.

Asthma and Allergy Medications


Antihistamines If you have allergies, your physician may prescribe an antihistamine for treatment of allergic rhinitis ("hay fever") and other conditions such as hives. Antihistamines help prevent the effects of histamine-a chemical substance released by the body during an allergic reaction. By preventing the action of histamine the symptoms of the allergy can be reduced. Antihistamines are available in liquid, tablet or nasal spray form.

Antihistamines are divided into:

  • "First generation, sedating:" these are known to cause drowsiness in some people
  • "Second generation, low-sedating or non-sedating:" these have much less chance of causing drowsiness
    Potential antihistamine side effects (most often associated with the "first generation" antihistamines):
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty in urination (especially in men with prostate proble
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • In some children: nightmares, unusual jumpiness, restlessness, irritability.
    These symptoms are much less common with the "second generation" antihistamines. Discuss with your doctor the potential benefit of using an antihistamine versus the possible side effects.

Decongestants: Decongestants reduce the nasal congestion and other symptoms associated with allergies. They work by constricting blood vessels, thereby decreasing the amount of fluid that leaks out into the lining of the nose which can cause congestion.

  • Available in liquid form, nasal spray and tablets.
  • Most of these are available over-the-counter as well as by prescription.
  • Very often antihistamines and decongestants are combined so that they may control more symptoms.

Potential side effects of decongestants:

  • Nervousness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Increased blood pressure or heart rate
  • "Rebound rhinitis" can occur with the decongestant nasal spray form if used for more than three or four days in a row. This rebound will cause the nasal congestion to become more severe which may lead to becoming "dependent" upon the use of the medication.
"Controller" medications
Anticholinergic agents
Anti-IgE antibody

When to see an Allergy/Asthma Specialist

The AAAAI's How the Allergist/Immunologist Can Help: Consultation and Referral Guidelines Citing the Evidence provide information to assist patients and health care professionals in determining when a patient may need consultation or ongoing specialty care by the allergist/immunologist.

Patients should see an allergist/immunologist if they:
  • Are not using medications as prescribed, and this is limiting their ability to control their asthma.
  • Have potentially fatal asthma, meaning a prior severe, life threatening episode that included intubation.
  • Have persistent asthma, particularly moderate-severe or uncontrolled persistent asthma.
  • Need for daily asthma reliever medications.
  • Would like to try to minimize their need for medications.

Your allergist/immunologist can provide you with more information on asthma and allergy medications and overall measures to help control these diseases. They can prescribe medications that are the most effective for your specific condition. If you have side effects from any medications, be sure to contact your physician.

Tips to Remember are created by the Public Education Committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. These tips are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace evaluation by a physician. If you have questions or medical concerns, please contact us.

Why Allergy and Asthma Care of Waco?

Our primary goal is to improve your quality of life by determining what triggers your allergy and asthma symptoms, providing extensive education on how to modify your environment to better control exposure to allergens, and providing you with other treatment options such as medications and immunotherapy (allergy injections).

Our hours

M 8:30am - 6:00pm T 7:00am - 4:00pm W 8:30am - 5:30pm T 8:30am - 6:00pm F 8:30am - 1:00pm

Contact information

(254) 753-3646 221 Jewell Drive, Waco, TX 76712