Researchers say, that a steroid nasal spray may relieve seasonal allergy symptoms better than an oral antihistamine. Dr. Robert Naclerio and colleagues from University of Chicago,compared the effectiveness of fluticasone(Flonase),a corticosteroid nasal spray, with loratadine(Claritin),a nonsedating antihistamine, for treating ragweed allergy on an as-needed basis..
Participants who used the inhaled steroid experienced significantly fewer allergy symptoms and reported less impact on their quality of life than those who took the antihistamine. During the four-week study, 88 participants took either the steroid nasal spray or antihistamine on an as-needed basis. They kept a daily diary of their allergy symptoms and completed a quality-of-life questionnaire.
Researchers looked for chemical evidence of allergic reaction, such as eosinophils, in participants' blood. Eosinophils are white blood cells involved in defending the body from allergens. For best results, experts generally recommend that you use either an inhaled steroid or an antihistamine on a continuous, long-term basis.
But the researchers point out that most people tend to wait until symptoms appear before taking allergy medications. This may be one reason for the superiority of the steroid nasal spray in the study. Unlike inhaled corticosteroids, antihistamines like Claritin are not very effective in blocking the allergic response once it has begun.