A plethora of allergy medications that were once prescriptive medications are now available as over-the-counter medications. However, certain allergy medications, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) have been available as OTC medications for years and years. On the other hand, some newer antihistamines, such as Allegra, a low sedating antihistamine and Nasacort 24 Hour Allergy, an intranasal corticosteroid spray have just recently become available for purchase over the counter.
Since there are a huge variety of OTC allergy medicines, it is now fully possible to treat symptoms of most allergic diseases and allergies without visiting a medical professional. What people need to know regarding OTC allergy medications is to choose the right medicines for their allergy symptoms since not every allergy medicine treats everything related to allergies.
Therefore, let us learn about the system-based approach to the treatment of allergies, and particularly nasal allergies.
5 Best OTC Medicines for Allergy Treatment
Antihistamines for Treating Allergy
Sedating OTC antihistamines, such as Benadryl and Chlor-Trimeton (chlorphenirimine) are not safe for routine use since they cause excessive drowsiness. Moreover, you can easily be charged for driving under influence if you take sedating OTC antihistamines.
However, there are three new OTC antihistamines that cause less sedation. They are:
- Claritin (loratadine)
- Allegra (fexofenadine)
- Zyrtec (cetirizine)
All of these medicines are also available in their generic form.
Decongestants for Treating Allergy
Over the counter decongestants without a prescription include oral decongestants such as Sudafed, and nasal decongestants, such as Afrin (oxymetazoline). Both Sudafed and Afrin do their job flawlessly.
However, both of them also bring side effects. Although many people use Sudafed on a daily basis, it is well-known that Sudafed and other oral decongestants cause high blood pressure, insomnia, headaches, and other side effects. It is best to use oral decongestants for a short period for controlling allergy symptoms.
Nasal OTC decongestants, like Afrin, must not be used more than three days since they can even worsen one’s nasal congestion, which would be ironic.
Antihistamine/Decongestant Combinations for Treating Allergy
OTC Antihistamine/Decongestant combined medications include Claritin-D (loratadine/pseudoephedrine) and Zyrtec-D (cetirizine/pseudoephedrine) for treating allergy.
Allergy Nasal Sprays for Treating Allergy
There are only two OTC nasal sprays for allergies that can be used for longer periods. They are Nasalcrom and Nasacort 24 Hour Allergy. For example, Nasalcrom is so safe that even children as young as 2 years old can use it.
Allergy Eye Drops for Treating Allergies
There are various over the counter allergy eye drops that treat allergic conjunctivitis. However, ironically, the prolonged use of these eye drops can lead to a special type of conjunctivitis called conjunctivitis medicamentosa.
However, there are new OTC eye drops for allergies that don’t cause conjunctivitis medicamentosa, such as Zaditor and Alaway.