If you’re struggling with allergy symptoms, you may assume you can resolve them with an over-the-counter (OTC) remedy.¬†Before choosing a medication, it helps to understand what’s causing your allergies.

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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.