Antihistamines and decongestants can help with postnasal drip caused by sinusitis and viral infections. They can also be effective, along with steroid medications or nasal sprays, for postnasal drip caused by allergies. The older, over-the-counter antihistamines (Benadryl, Chlor-Trimetron) might not be the best choices for postnasal drip, because when they dry out mucus, they can actually thicken it. The newer generation of antihistamines (Clarinex, Allegra, Xyzal) may be better options, and are less likely to cause drowsiness. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before treating your postnasal drip because all of these medications can have side effects that range from dizziness to dry mouth.
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Allergy is managed by avoiding the cause if possible. Antihistamines and decongestants, cromolyn and steroid (cortisone type) nasal sprays, and other forms of steroids may offer relief. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) also may be helpful. However, some older, sedating antihistamines may dry and thicken post-nasal secretions even more; newer nonsedating antihistamines, available by prescription only, do not have this effect. Decongestants can aggravate high blood pressure, heart, and thyroid disease. Steroid sprays generally may be used safely under medical supervision. Oral and injectable steroids rarely produce serious complications in short-term use. Because significant side-effects can occur, steroids must be monitored carefully when used for more than one week.