Over the counter allergy medicine

Many substances may cause allergies, including those contained in plants, food or drugs. In allergic individuals, such substances trigger the response of the immune system, which, in turn, produces a strong inflammatory reaction that may affects the respiratory tract, skin, or digestion, for example. Over the counter allergy medication market offers many types of drugs to help you alleviate the burdensome accompanying symptoms. Among such drugs are antihistamines, decongestants, steroids, or combination drugs. So, what is the best over the counter allergy medication? The following guide should help you find the right one for you.

Best over the counter allergy medicine

Antihistamines are responsible for preventing allergic symptoms occurring due to the secretion of histamine when allergens meet cells of the human immune system. They are sold in the form of tablets, an orally administered liquid, eye drops (when eye irritation is involved), or nasal sprays in the case of nasal congestion. Examples of antihistamine drugs to treat allergy over the counter include, among others, Cetrizine (Zyrtec), Fexofenadine (Allegra), and Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert). Decongestants, as the name suggests, alleviate unpleasantness associated with nasal congestion. It must be noted that decongestants in the form of eye drops or nasal sprays should not be taken longer than a few days as their prolonged use may adversely affect the existing congestion. However, decongestants in tablet or liquid form can be safely applied over longer periods. Popular over the counter decongestants include Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) or Oxymetazoline (Afrin). Combination allergy drugs, in turn, comprise a mixture of antihistamines and decongestants. They are effective in treating allergy symptoms of different aetiologies. Fexofenadine and Pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D) or Cetirizine and Pseudoephedrine (Zyrtec-D) are examples of such drugs. Finally, steroids are used to decrease inflammation related to allergic reactions. Steroids are considered as highly effective, however, they need to be taken on a regular basis, also when no allergy symptoms are present. However, steroids, such as Budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy) or Fluticasone (Flonase Allergy Relief), are characterized by numerous side effects, particularly when used for long periods of time, including muscle weakness or growth retardation.

Cetirizine (Zyrtec)

Cetirizine, known also under its brand name Zyrtec, is an antihistamine medication relieving symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, or watery eyes. If it is offered in the form of tablets, the tablet has to be chewed before swallowing. The liquid form of the medication should be dosed using the provided cup. Taking other medications that increase drowsiness has to be consulted with your physician. The drug is safe for pregnant women, however, it should not be used by breastfeeding mothers. Do not double the drug dose to compensate for the missed one. Side effects of the medicine include, among others, drowsiness, dizziness, sore throat and cough, headache, or nausea. The medicine overdose can be signalled by either irregular heartbeat and general hyperactivity or insomnia as well as weakness or drowsiness. In such cases, seek medical help immediately.

Fexofenadine (Allegra)

Fexofenadine (Allegra) is an antihistamine drug that is usually taken in the case of seasonal allergies that manifest themselves with sneezing, runny nose, or throat and skin irritation, among other symptoms. The medicine should be avoided if you experience kidney or bladder issues. When taking drugs reducing stomach acidity in some digestive conditions, the use of antacids with aluminium or magnesium must be temporarily terminated. It can, furthermore, affect skin allergy tests, therefore, it is recommended to take some break in using the drug before the scheduled tests. Commonly, Fexofenadine causes dizziness, headaches, and stomach issues. Severe adverse effects include allergic reactions to the drug (manifested by breathing difficulties, rash, or hives, for instance) as well as coughing and vomiting. As the medicine may trigger the feeling of dizziness, it is advised to avoid driving or highly reaction-demanding tasks. One needs to be very cautious when using the drug in the elderly and infants up to 6 months of age as the two groups are particularly vulnerable to the described side effects. Moreover, the risk associated with using the drug while being pregnant needs to be considered as it currently remains unknown how Fexofenadine affects the foetus.

Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert)

Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert) is another antihistamine drug relieving allergy symptoms, such as skin rash, itching, sneezing, or runny nose. Loratadine is typically taken one time per day. Both tablets and liquid medication are available. In the case of orally disintegrating pills, you should let it dissolve on your tongue. The drug use should be consulted with a doctor in the case of kidney or liver disorders. It is safe to be used during pregnancy as it does not harm unborn children, however, mothers that breastfeed their children should avoid the drug throughout that period. Importantly, when administering the drug to children, especially younger than 6 years of age, a doctor must be strictly consulted as an overdose in small children may even cause death. In adults, some harmless side effects include drowsiness, headache, dry mouth, stomach disorders, or anxiety. More serious symptoms that require medical attention comprise, among others, heart palpitations, hives, shortness of breath, or swelling of the face or tongue.

Clemastine (Tavist)

Clemastine, also known as Tavist, is also an antihistamine drug that comes in liquid form. Its active substance, clemastine hydrogen fumarate, is well suited for treating allergy symptoms, such as watery eyes, itching, and rhinitis. The drug should be taken when necessary, however, the daily dose should not be exceeded. Importantly, different dosage should be applied in accordance with the age when giving the drug to children. For example, while adults should take the dose of 1,34 mg (two times) up to 2,68 mg (three times a day) in the case of allergic rhinitis, urticaria, and allergic reaction, recommendations for children differ in line with the applicable age group: younger than 6 years of age, between 6 and 12 years of age, and older than 12 years of age. Clemastine should not be taken longer than a week. Therefore, it is important to contact your physician either when no signs of improvement are experienced, or there are additional symptoms that should raise your concern, such as fever or skin rash. Patients with serious respiratory problems (bronchitis, emphysema), ulcer disease, or urinary issues should avoid the drug. Clemastine is safe during pregnancy, but is not recommended for breastfed children.

Allergies represent some of the most frequently occurring chronic conditions. It is important to learn about allergies you may possibly have and to beware of the respective allergens. Once identified, all you can do is to reduce the symptoms as allergies cannot be currently cured for good. Over the counter allergy medicines provide a quick relief, however, one should carefully study their indications, side effects, or dosage when deciding which medication is most suitable for the individual user.

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