From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health

Why is my allergy medication not working?

Prisma Health Mobile Clinic
When pollen counts start rising, many seasonal allergy sufferers begin heading to their medicine cabinets. But what if your usual routine isn’t working? Katie Schill, nurse practitioner with Prisma Health’s Mobile Clinic, offers some advice.

She uses the analogy of catching a moving train. “Rather than putting your arm out and hoping to catch the handle, it’s easier to catch a moving train if you are running first, even if you’re not running as fast as the train,” Katie said. “Think of treating your allergies the same way.”

She said it’s easier to start your preventive medications before your trigger is present. If you know you have spring allergies, it’s better to start your preventive medications a few weeks before the spring pollen hits.

Katie said most medications for allergy symptoms work best as preventives. These include Zyrtec, Flonase, Claritin and Allegra. “If symptoms are already present, then adding Benadryl will help,” she said. “It can take up to two weeks for preventive medications to really be effective, again a reason we recommend starting a few weeks before your trigger season.”

Remember, too, preventives will not keep all symptoms at bay if you have had a significant exposure to your allergen. If you are allergic to tree pollen, washing all of the yellow pollen off your car could be enough to cause some nasal drainage, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes or sore throat. If this happens, Katie says to continue with your medication and add some Benadryl, if needed. “It will likely take a few days for your body to process through the significant exposure.”

If you don’t see any improvements or have questions about which medication is best for you, Prisma Health offers several same-day care options. Visit for more information.

Same-Day Care

Palmetto Health offers several same-day care options for minor illnesses such as UTIs. To learn more, visit