Best Allergy Medicine: The Complete Comparison Guide
If you are one of the 50 million Americans who suffers from allergies, you know how frustrating it can be to try and manage your symptoms. There are dozens of medications on the market to treat allergies, but how can you find the best allergy medicine?
Medications used to treat allergies typically fall into one of five classes of drugs: antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, mast cell stabilizers, and allergen immunotherapy. Each of these classes of drugs works differently to treat allergy symptoms.
Antihistamines are a class of drugs that are commonly used to treat allergy symptoms. These medications work by blocking the action of histamine, a chemical that is released by the body during an allergic reaction.
Histamine is the chemical that is responsible for many of the unpleasant symptoms associated with an allergic reaction, such as hives, a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. When you take an antihistamine, the medication binds to histamine receptors in the body to prevent the chemical from taking effect and causing symptoms.
Antihistamines are further classified as first-generation and second-generation antihistamines. First-generation antihistamines include diphenhydramine, the active ingredient found in Benadryl, while second-generation antihistamines include medications like cetirizine, the active ingredient found in Zyrtec.
First-generation antihistamines include:
Examples of corticosteroids include:
Treating Severe Allergic Reactions
Some people with severe allergies may experience life-threatening reactions, known as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock.
If you’re at risk of this, you’ll be given special injectors containing a medicine called adrenaline to use in an emergency.
If you develop symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as difficulty breathing, you should inject yourself in the outer thigh before seeking emergency medical help.
Why You Should Avoid Decongestant Sprays
Giving your child a decongestant nasal spray to relieve stuffiness is acceptable for short-term relief as long as you don’t use it for more than a day or two. “If you use them longer than that, they can cause a rebound effect, in which the congestion becomes even worse,” says Dr. Smith. Because seasonal allergies tend to last weeks or months, not days, Dr. Smith is cautious about recommending them at all.
Oral decongestants don’t pose a rebound problem, but they also don’t address sneezing and itching and can make some children hyperactive. Plus, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using decongestants for young children.
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The Common Cold: A Review Of Otc Options
Blesson O. George, PharmD Candidate 2019St. Johns University, College of Pharmacy & Health SciencesQueens, New York
Associate Dean for Student AffairsAssociate Clinical ProfessorSt. Johns University, College of Pharmacy & Health SciencesQueens, New York
Emily M. Ambizas, PharmD, MPH, BCGPAssociate Clinical ProfessorSt. Johns University, College of Pharmacy & Health SciencesQueens, New YorkClinical Specialist, Rite Aid PharmacyWhitestone, New York
The common cold is often mistaken for the flu. The flu is caused by the influenza virus, classified as type A, B, or C. Types A and B affect humans, with type A generating more severe symptoms. The influenza virus can be dangerous in older people and in those patients who are immunocompromised. Nevertheless, people with influenza are sicker than those experiencing common cold symptoms and commonly manifest such signs and symptoms as temperatures greater than 102°F, chills, headaches, myalgia, and malaise .3
The common cold is the leading cause of missed work and school days during the winter months. There is no known cure. Many patients seek out nonprescription medications for symptom relief, leading to expenditures in excess of $8 billion annually on cough and cold products.4
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How Do I Avoid Allergens
The best way to prevent allergy symptoms and limit your need for allergy medicine is to avoid your allergens as much as possible. This includes removing the source of allergens from your home and other places you spend time. You can also reduce your symptoms to airborne allergens by washing out your nose daily. You can do this by using a nasal saline rinse using a squeeze bottle or a Neti pot.
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Best Eye Drops: Bauch & Lomb Alaway Eye Itch Relief Drops
Eye drops with antihistamines can help reduce symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, the trademark red, swollen, itchy and watery eyes of allergy sufferers.
Unlike oral antihistamines that usually take about an hour, eye drops can begin to provide relief in minutes. However, they won’t last as long, with a max advertised limit of 12 hours.
While all eye drops work the same way delivering a drop of the medicine directly into your eye you should be aware that the specific instructions will depend on the concentration of the medication, so follow them carefully. For example, with Alaway, the recommended use is one drop in each eye twice daily.
Two other OTC eye drops Dr. Kalra recommends are Zatidor and Pataday.
Buy it: CVS Price: $14.99 for a 60-day supply
The Best Allergy Medicine Delivered Straight To Your Door
Gearing up to wage war against pesky allergies? Gopuff is ready and raring to deliver the meds you need when you need them most. Browse our full selection of OTC medication, then explore the rest of our health essentials to complete your comprehensive self-care package. Place an order, and well have your package delivered in no time.
Can You Take Different Types Of Allergy Medication At The Same Time
As a general rule, you can safely combine allergy medications that are in different classes. For instance, oral antihistamines and decongestants are often combined into a single tablet for convenience, as seen with Claritin-D and Allegra-D . You can also use an oral antihistamine with an eye drop like Zaditor if the tablet isnt helping your eye symptoms enough.
Another good tip is to take an oral antihistamine while first starting a nasal steroid spray since the latter takes some time to start working. This tactic would be especially helpful if you didnt start your daily regimen before allergy season began and need immediate symptom relief. After using this combination for about 2 weeks, you can try to stop the antihistamine and see if the nasal steroid is working well enough on its own.
One combination you should never take without a providers instruction is two oral antihistamines. Taking more than one antihistamine at the same time can lead to serious side effects, including seizures, heart rhythm problems, and, in some cases, death.
If youre considering adding a second allergy medication, its best to speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist first. They can make sure the medications youre taking wont interact with each other.
Liquid Medicine For Allergies
Many people have difficulty swallowing allergy pills, so another big benefit of liquid allergy medication is that it may be easier to take. Liquid allergy medication may be an especially beneficial form to choose for young children and elderly adults, who may not be able to swallow pills. If you, your child, or your elderly relative has trouble swallowing pills, liquid allergy medicine can be a wonderful solution. However, youll want to be sure to choose the correct formula and follow the proper dosage instructions. Liquid allergy medicine for adults and liquid kids allergy medicine are often not interchangeable. Be sure to purchase the correct type of liquid allergy medication for the person who will be taking it.
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Dog Allergy Medication Prices
Its hard to pinpoint a price range for dog allergy medications because there are so many types, both prescription and OTC. As a general rule, youll pay less for a generic drug than a brand-name medication. That goes for both prescription and OTC drugs. For example, a generic bottle of Diphenhydramine HCl, which is the active ingredient in Benadryl, can cost as little as $5 for 100 tablets, while brand-name Benadryl might cost $15 for the same amount.
When it comes to itch-and-allergy treatments, expect to pay $20 to $30 for a one- to three-month supply, depending on your pets weight.
How To Relieve Your Allergy Symptoms
If youre convinced your cough is a result of allergies, start by making a few changes to decrease your exposure to potentially irritating substances: Keep your windows closed, shower as soon as you come inside after being outdoors, brush your pets after walks, or invest in an air purifier for your home.
OTC medications are also a great starting point, Dr. Bassett says. Oral antihistamines, like Claritin and Allegra, help block the histamines that set off symptoms in the first place. Nasal steroid sprays, like Flonase, can help clear a stuffy nose if youre dealing with that, too.
But the right treatment depends largely on the cause for a cough, Dr. Bassett says. If you dont see any improvement after taking these steps, reach out to an allergist, who can give you a proper diagnosis, help you identify your triggers, and potentially recommend prescription allergy meds or allergy shots.
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Best Homeopathic Medicines For Allergic Cough Treatment
An allergic cough is simply a cough that will not go away. It can be triggered by quite a few things and at different times of the year. There are also different types of allergies that are directly responsible for an allergic cough.
When the respiratory system is irritated by an allergen or a virus, fluids and mucus coat the lungs and the airways. In an attempt to remove these fluids, a person coughs. This is a natural way the body protects itself from allergens. A cough is usually always a symptom of some other illness and that problem has to be identified before you can address the coughing. There are many different reasons why a person can suffer with an allergic cough.
Having problems with excessive coughing during the spring or summer months, can be a clear sign of seasonal allergies. Pollen allergy, rhinitis and hay fever are all examples of different allergies associated with the changing seasons. People can have reactions to pollen in the air, ragweed and even to freshly mowed grass. The symptoms of seasonal allergies can be reduced by taking an antihistamine to lessen the severity of the allergic reaction. Smoking can cause an allergic cough and over time it may become worse. Most people who have smoked cigarettes consistently for a number of years have what is called a smokers cough. This too is the bodys attempt to remove fluids brought on by irritation from the smoke.
What is allergy?
Understand How Body Immune system reacts to an allergy:
Types Of Otc Allergy Medications
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 medication 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. .
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Why Trust Verywell Health
Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.
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.
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How Do You Treat Allergies
There are various ways to combat unpleasant allergy symptoms, including:
- Medications: An array of medicationsboth over-the-counter and prescriptioneffectively and safely treat allergy symptoms. Different types of medications treat allergy symptoms in different ways, ranging from reducing swelling to keeping your body from releasing histamines.
- Immunotherapy treatments: These treatments consist of giving a patient either an allergy shot or sublingual immunotherapy tablet with a dosage of the allergen to lower their sensitivity to it gradually. With allergy shots, you need three to six months of injections with increasingly higher doses of the allergen to build up immunity or tolerance. Once youve reached an effective dose, you can expect to receive an injection every two to four weeks. Allergen immunotherapy may reduce the need for medications to control symptoms.
What You Think Will Work For Your Symptoms Probably Will
Its also important to point out here that the placebo effect is quite strong for all things allergy-related. Studies of allergy treatments all have to contend with this issue, and one notable study found that the placebo effect holds even if you tell people theyre taking a placebo. Their symptoms will decrease anyway.
This doesnt mean that allergies are all in your headit just means your head is more powerful than you think. So if your current allergy cocktail seems useless, changing brands or delivery methods might help simply by making you feel like youre taking action.
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When Is It Time To Try A Different Allergy Medication
Its not unusual for people to say their medication has worn off midway through allergy season. Many people believe its because theyve developed a tolerance to their regimen, but this is most likely not the case, as its not common for people to develop a resistance to these medications.
So then why is your allergy medication suddenly not working as well? Well, there are several possible reasons, including a change to the type of pollen in the environment, your body developing a new allergy, and changes to your stress levels. Its also possible youre not using your medication correctly, especially when it comes to nasal sprays, which take some practice to use properly.
But if you know youre using your medication appropriately, youve lowered your stress levels, and youre taking steps to avoid being exposed to pollen and other allergens, then it might be time to change medications. Sometimes, all you need to do is try another medication within the same class, such as switching from Claritin to Allegra or changing from Flonase to Nasacort. If that doesnt seem to help, its time to see your primary care provider or an allergy specialist.
Best For Pet Allergies: Claritin
Pet allergies are a type of indoor allergy, which can be tricky to manage, because it can be difficult to completely avoid them. Unlike seasonal allergies, indoor allergens can be bothersome year-round. Most often, pet allergies are treated with an oral antihistamine.
You may want to try out a few different types of oral antihistamines to see which works best for you Claritin relies on loratadine as its active ingredient, so it’s a different type of oral antihistamine than the other medications we’ve already mentioned. It comes in several forms, from dissolvable powder to tablets, and is available in 12- or 24-hour effectiveness. For best results, it’s recommended you take Claritin regularly and around the same time every day.
If you do have an allergy to pet dander, you should also keep pets out of the bedroom to reduce your exposure. “There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet because dogs and cats produce allergen in their dander and saliva,” Dr. Kalra says.
Buy it: Price: $38.99 for 90 tablets
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Allergy Medication Side Effects
Older antihistamines are associated with drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, upset stomach, blurry vision, a dry mouth/nose and throat, and difficulty urinating. The newer antihistamines are usually well tolerated but can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, and stomach problems.
Mast cell stabilizers can cause a short-lived stinging sensation inside the nose.
Nasal decongestants may cause a temporary burning, stinging, or dryness in the nose, a runny nose, and sneezing. Oral decongestants may cause dizziness, headache, nervousness, fast heartbeat, increased blood pressure, loss of appetite, and sleep problems.
Topical corticosteroids for skin allergies can cause burning, itching, redness, and changes to skin color and thinning of skin.
Topical immunomodulators for skin allergies may cause stinging, burning, irritation, and itching at the application site. They may also cause headache and flu symptoms.