Different Types Of Allergy Medicine
OTC allergy medications use a variety of methods to fight symptoms. Three of the most common OTC allergy medication types are:
- Corticosteroids: This type of OTC allergy medicine works by preventing swelling and inflammation. Its applied via nasal spray, treating nasal allergies. Corticosteroids are Dr. Passers preferred format of OTC allergy medicationwhile they mainly help with congestion and post nasal drainage, they can also help with itching and sneezing, she says. These work by soothing the sensitive tissue in your sinuses by coating them with the best anti-inflammatory medication, says Dr. Passer.Therefore, when you are exposed to allergens, those tissues remain calm, cool and collected and dont have the over-exaggerated response of swelling and producing lots of mucus. Indeed, one study confirms corticosteroids are superior to antihistamines when it comes to treating allergies. In the study, 88 patients with ragweed allergies received either a corticosteroid or an antihistamine. After four weeks, the steroid nasal spray group reported far fewer allergy symptoms than the antihistamine groupSteroids More Effective Than Antihistamines When Used As Needed For Allergies. University Of Chicago Medical Center. Accessed 05/13/2021. .
Side Effects Of Corticosteroids
Many potential side effects can occur if steroid treatments are used for an extended period of time. Side effects are typically mild, such as weight gain, fluid retention, and increased blood pressure, but certain patients may develop more serious complications, including diabetes, osteoporosis, and muscle weakness. Steroids that are ingested through nasal sprays or inhalers can cause side effects such as cough, hoarseness, and fungal infections of the mouth.
What Are The Main Differences Between Zyrtec And Zyrtec
The main difference between Zyrtec and Zyrtec-D is that Zyrtec-D contains the decongestant pseudoephedrine. Also known by its brand name, Sudafed, pseudoephedrine works by shrinking blood vessels to reduce swelling and congestion in the nasal passages.
Zyrtec is the brand name for cetirizine. It is available as an oral syrup, orally disintegrating tablet and oral tablet. Children aged 2 to 6 years old can be given the oral syrup. Zyrtec tablets can be administered to children, adolescents, and adults 6 years and older. Zyrtec can be purchased over the counter.
Zyrtec-D contains cetirizine and pseudoephedrine. It is only available as an oral tablet for adults and children 12 years and older. While Zyrtec can be found in the pharmacy aisles, Zyrtec-D is usually stored behind the counter at the pharmacy. This is because there are restrictions on how much pseudoephedrine can be sold to a person at a given time.
|Main differences between Zyrtec and Zyrtec-D
|One 5 mg-120 mg tablet twice daily
|How long is the typical treatment?
|As needed for seasonal or perennial allergies
|As needed for seasonal or perennial allergies. Pseudoephedrine use should be limited to no more than 10 days.
|Who typically uses the medication?
|Adults and children 2 years and older
|Adults and children 12 years and older
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The Best Of Both Antihistamines And Decongestants
Certain OTC allergy medications like Allegra Allergy contain both an antihistamine and decongestant to relieve multiple symptoms at once. These combination drugs can be an effective treatment for people who experience nasal congestion or trouble breathing in addition to other common allergies like hay fever, itchy skin, scratchy throat, hives, or itchy eyes.
Examples of Combination Over the Counter Allergy Medications
Side Effects of Combination Medications
Due to the fact that OTC allergy combination medications typically include both antihistamines and decongestants, patients can experience side effects associated with either treatment. While these combination medications are non-drowsy and drowsiness is unlikely, it can still occur, as can insomnia or irritability and an increase in blood pressure.
What Is A Decongestant
Decongestants do exactly what their name indicates: They help clear up the congestion that allergies cause. Decongestants constrict the blood vessels in the nose, which opens up the airway for some patients, Dr. Aronica explains.
Pseudoephedrine, sold on its own as Sudafed®, is the most common decongestant, but pseudoephedrine also comes with antihistamine added to it. If theres a -D at the end of the name of your medication, it stands for decongestant, meaning that its an antihistamine/decongestant hybrid:
- Cetirizine with pseudoephedrine .
- Fexofenadine with pseudoephedrine .
- Loratadine with pseudoephedrine .
Products containing pseudoephedrine are typically regulated by law. In many states, you have to show your drivers license to purchase them.
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What Happens When You Go To The Counter
Instead of having products containing pseudoephedrine on the shelves, many pharmacies put cards with a photo and description of the medication on the display. This allows you to select what you want and bring it up to the pharmacist at the counter.
Also know that the pharmacy is supposed to be keeping track of your purchases of the behind-the-counter medications. Amy Lanctot, CVS spokesperson, tells SheKnows all their pharmacies are connected to the MethCheck database, and their electronic log system prevents sales of drugs that contain pseudoephedrine to an individual beyond the permissible limits set by federal and state laws.
Symptoms Treated By Antihistamines
Side Effects of Antihistamines
Older antihistamines may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Most newer OTC allergy medications are second or third-generation antihistamines, which often contain cetirizine hydrochloride. This medication is non-sedating and safe to take before most activities. Second generation antihistamines are a great option if youre looking for a non-drowsy allergy medication with all-day relief. Antihistamines can, however, cause dryness as a side effect, especially after prolonged use.
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How Should This Medicine Be Used
Loratadine comes as a syrup , a tablet, and a rapidly disintegrating tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. Follow the directions on the package label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take loratadine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than directed on the package label or recommended by your doctor. If you take more loratadine than directed, you may experience drowsiness.
If you are taking the rapidly disintegrating tablet, follow the package directions to remove the tablet from the blister package without breaking the tablet. Do not try to push the tablet through the foil. After you remove the tablet from the blister package, immediately place it on your tongue and close your mouth. The tablet will quickly dissolve and can be swallowed with or without water.
Do not use loratadine to treat hives that are bruised or blistered, that are an unusual color, or that do not itch. Call your doctor if you have this type of hives.
Stop taking loratadine and call your doctor if your hives do not improve during the first 3 days of your treatment or if your hives last longer than 6 weeks. If you do not know the cause of your hives, call your doctor.
Do not use this medication if the safety seal is open or torn.
What Should I Know About Storage And Disposal Of This Medication
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature, away from excess heat and moisture and away from light. Use the orally disintegrating tablets immediately after you remove them from the blister package, and within 6 months after you open the outer foil pouch. Write the date that you open the foil pouch on the product label so that you will know when 6 months have passed.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location â one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
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Why Is This Medication Prescribed
Loratadine is used to temporarily relieve the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies. These symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes, nose, or throat. Loratadine is also used to treat itching and redness caused by hives. However, loratadine does not prevent hives or other allergic skin reactions. Loratadine is in a class of medications called antihistamines. It works by blocking the action of histamine, a substance in the body that causes allergic symptoms.
Loratadine is also available in combination with pseudoephedrine . This monograph only includes information about the use of loratadine alone. If you are taking the loratadine and pseudoephedrine combination product, read the information on the package label or ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Can I Use Zyrtec Or Zyrtec
Zyrtec is generally safe for use during pregnancy. Zyrtec-D contains pseudoephedrine, which is not recommended during the first trimester or while breastfeeding. Pseudoephedrine can pass through breast milk. Although the risk of birth defects may be low, its best to use caution. Consult your doctor for the best allergy medicine to take while pregnant.
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Treats Asthma And Nasal Allergies
Leukotriene modifiers can be prescribed along with other medications to help reduce your allergies. These drugs are primarily used to treat asthma, allergic asthma, and nasal issues. They work by blocking the leukotrienes, a type of chemical produced by the body in response to allergens. Leukotriene modifiers can be taken as pills, chewable tablets, and oral powder.
Examples of Leukotriene Modifiers
The only leukotriene modifier that the FDA has approved is Singulair .
Side Effects of Leukotriene Modifiers
Side effects of leukotriene modifiers are rare but can include:
- Stomach pain or stomach upset
Zyrtec Vs Allegra Vs Claritin: What Kind Of Antihistamine To Take
With three types of antihistamines all claiming to do the trick, which should you choose? To some extent, its all about figuring out which medication your body reacts to best.
They all do the same job of blocking the same receptor, Dr. Aronica notes, but some patients say one medication seems to work better for them. And in that case, thats the medicine you should use.
The key difference among the three is their capacity to make you sleepy. Theyre all labeled non-drowsy , but cetirizine has the highest chance of drowsiness.
Cetirizine has a little bit higher risk of sedation than the other two, followed by loratadine , Dr. Aronica explains. Fexofenadine is the only long-acting, non-sedating antihistamine approved for airline pilots because its the least sedating of the three.
Heres another thing to consider: Although its most likely to cause drowsiness, cetirizine also has the fastest onset of action in other words, it starts working the quickest.
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Allergy Medicine For Children
Some allergy products may be available specifically for children. Always read the package label and follow the appropriate dosing instructions for your childs age and weight. Similar to adults, childrens allergy medicine comes in many forms including eye drops, nasal sprays, and oral medicineto help different symptoms. When taken orally, childrens allergy medicine may be offered in flavors or disintegrating tablets.
Allergy symptoms can be quite bothersome and persistent, especially while in certain environments or during specific seasons. Medicine can help improve your allergy symptoms. There are many choices for allergy symptom relief available at Walgreens online and in stores. Talk to your healthcare provider about allergy products that may be appropriate for your health and symptoms.
Warnings Of Zyrtec And Zyrtec
Cetirizine can cause drowsiness and affect your mental alertness. Avoid operating any machinery or driving an automobile while taking cetirizine as it can make you feel drowsy.
Pseudoephedrine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and can raise blood pressure. While pseudoephedrine is generally safe, its use may increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, heart attack, and stroke, especially if you have other cardiovascular conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Those with known coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, or a history of stroke should use caution.
Cetirizine is processed through the liver and kidneys. In those with kidney disease or liver problems, cetirizine use should be monitored or avoided. The risk of adverse effects may be increased in the elderly, who are more prone to kidney or liver problems.
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Which Allergy Medicine Should I Take
When determining which type of OTC allergy medication is right for you, consider your worst allergy symptoms.
There is a lot of crossover among the different categories, but in the most simple terms, antihistamines are best for itchy, sneezy noses and help itchy eyes, says Dr. Passer. Nasal sprays are best for congestion and post nasal drainage, but help itch quite a bit, too, and decongestants help with congestion. OTC eye drops are best for eye symptoms.
I dont think there is any differentiation between the medication categories for pollen versus, say, indoor allergens like dust or dog dander, she adds. It really is all the same process in the bodyit just comes from different sources.
Which Otc Allergy Medication Is Best For You
Runny nose, watery eyes, nasal itching, sneezingdo any of these sound familiar to you? Many of us suffer from seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are usually due to tree pollens in the spring, grass pollens in the summer, and weed pollens in the fall. Some people even suffer from indoor allergies such as animal dander, dust mites, and molds.
The first step to managing allergies is to avoid exposure to allergens that trigger an allergic reaction. People are most commonly exposed to allergens by inhaling them. Outdoor allergens are often responsible for seasonal allergy symptoms while indoor allergens may be responsible for year-round allergy symptoms.
Often, allergens cant be completely avoided, and drug therapy is needed to decrease or prevent symptoms due to allergies. Common over the counter medications used to treat allergies include oral antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal steroids.
Oral AntihistaminesOral antihistamines are often considered the first-line agents for the treatment of mild to moderate allergy symptoms and are sometimes given in combination with a nasal decongestant or a nasal steroid. These medications are effective in reducing symptoms of itching, sneezing, and runny noses. There are two types of oral antihistamines: first-generation and second-generation antihistamines. For the best symptom relief, antihistamines should be taken either prophylactically , or on a regular basis if needed chronically.
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If Your Allergy Symptoms Worsen See A Doctor
“A long-acting antihistamine, either alone or in combination with a nasal steroid spray, will relieve most people’s allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Hays.
If you’re taking over-the-counter allergy medicines and your symptoms continue or worsen, it may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as chronic sinus infections or sinus polyps. Follow up with your doctor if your symptoms are serious or frequent.
How Often Can You Take Allergy Medicine
Good news for bad allergies: Antihistamines are OK for everyday use.
Long-acting, non-sedating antihistamines can be used daily, and theyre generally very safe to use, even in the long-term, Dr. Aronica says. In a pinch, you can take two in one day, but if you frequently feel like antihistamines dont help your allergy symptoms, try another type or see your allergist for their input.
And dont take a decongestant every day.
Decongestants can be used on an as-needed basis to cover difficult days but certainly for no longer than 10 to 14 days at a time, Dr. Aronica warns. They have a caffeine-like effect on your body, so they come with a risk of side effects like increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure.
In other words, save the decongestants for your absolute worst allergy days.
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Treats Inflammation And Swelling
Corticosteroids can reduce inflammation that is associated with allergies. These medications primarily treat and prevent allergic reactions such as allergic rhinitis. They work quickly and limit the bodys histamine creation, preventing the allergic response that leads to problematic symptoms like nasal stuffiness, sneezing, an itchy or sore throat, or postnasal drip. Steroids can work well for treating hay fever, seasonal and year-round allergies.
Steroids are considered highly effective, but they must be taken regularly, even when no symptoms are experienced, to work well. Like many subscription or OTC allergy medications, it can take several weeks before the full relief from the medicine is felt.
Systemic steroids are available as pills or liquids for serious allergies and asthma but are also common as nasal sprays or inhalers. They can also be used as a topical cream for skin allergies to relieve hives and swelling. Many doctors recommend nasal steroid sprays to help with year-round allergies. Nasal steroids like Corticosteroid medications can take longer to kick in than antihistamines, but most healthcare providers consider them to be the most effective way to combat nasal allergies. Many, but not all, of these steroid treatments require a prescription.
Which Type Of Allergy Medication Is Right For You
Dr. Menachof, MD, has specialized in conditions around the head, throat, ear, nose, neck and face for over 20 years, and was the first to bring sublingual allergy drops to Colorado in 2005. He has been recognized as a Fellow by multiple academies, named one of Americas Top Facial Plastic Surgeons continually since 2003 and is featured in multiple national publications.
Allergy season is rough for both indoor and outdoor allergies. The good news? There are many different allergy medicines to help you feel your best.
Depending on your symptoms and lifestyle, some allergy medicines may work better than others. Each person reacts differently to allergensthe irritants that trigger histamine reactions and cause symptoms such as post nasal drip and itching. The same happens with prescription and over-the-counter allergy treatments. So, if youre trying to choose between over-the-counter allergy medication or allergy drops, heres where to start:
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