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Choosing the Right Antihistamine During Allergy Seasons

Choosing the Right Antihistamine During Allergy Seasons

Did you know allergies affect up to 30% of adults?

Antihistamines can help treat allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, nasal itching, and runny nose.

How do I know which antihistamine is best for me?

All antihistamines are known to be effective for the relief of nasal symptoms. Older antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are more likely to cause sedation, decreased alertness, and performance impairment, which is why Benadryl is not recommended for patients who have to work, drive, or operate heavy machinery. Benadryl is not recommended for children younger than 6 years old without consulting a physician, and can actually cause excitation in children. For patients 65 and older, Benadryl can increase the risk of falling by causing excessive sedation, decrease in coordination, and confusion.

Newer antihistamines, such as Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin, have anti-inflammatory properties that appear to be helpful in relieving nasal congestion.

Medication

Advantages 

Disadvantages 

Notes

Average Cost

 Benadryl
(Diphenhydramine)

 

 

Drowsiness, sedation

Decrease in coordination, increased risk for falls

Multiple doses per day

For children younger than 6 years old, consult with your physician first.


May increase risk for falls in patients 65 and older.

#24 tablets:

Generic: $3.49
Brand: $4.99

 Cetirizine
(Zyrtec)

Improves watery eyes and nasal congestion

One dose per day

 Mildly-sedating 

 

#30 tablets:

Generic: $9.99
Brand: $19.99

 Fexofenadine (Allegra)

 

Improves watery eyes and nasal congestion

Less sedation

One dose per day

 

Take with water

#5 tablets:

Generic: $4.99
Brand: $6.99

 Loratadine (Claritin)

 

Improves watery eyes and nasal congestion

Less sedation

One dose per day 

 

 

#30 tablets:

Generic: $6.99
Brand: $22.99

Possible side effects of antihistamines are: sedation, decreased alertness, performance impairment, dizziness, urinary retention, and dry mouth.

Reminders: 

  • For best symptom relief, don't wait until allergic symptoms occur. Antihistamines should be taken 2-5 hours before exposure to allergen.
  • Patients respond to antihistamines differently, so if you don't respond well to one, try switching to another. What works for one patient might not work for another.
  • And remember, generic drugs are just as effective as brand-name drugs, but are significantly less expensive. Generic drugs must be proven to have the same strength, purity, and quality as their brand name counterparts.
  • If you have any questions regarding antihistamines, feel free to ask your  Pharmacist or other healthcare professional.

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