Which allergy medicine is best for seasonal allergies?

Ears, Nose & Throat

It seems convenient to leave seasonal allergy medicine in your car, but it’s not a good idea. Temperature fluctuations may affect the formula, so keep medicine indoors in a temperature-controlled area.

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The best medicine for seasonal allergies

Seasonal allergies are often accompanied by sneezing, coughing or watering eyes. At best, they’re uncomfortable. At worst, they can impact your daily functioning or quality of life.

Over-the-counter allergy medicine can help manage these symptoms. While they won’t eliminate them, seasonal allergy medicine may alleviate some symptoms and make you more comfortable. Some specialized formulas target specific symptoms, help you sleep better or have minimal side effects. 

What to know before buying allergy medicine for seasonal allergies

Children vs. adult allergy medication

Zyrtec 24-Hour Allergy HCl Dissolve Tablets

The main difference between allergy medicine for kids and adults is dosage. 

While these formulas often share the same active ingredients, the dosage amount may vary. You should also note that allergy medicine for adults may not contain instructions for children’s dosages or frequency.

With that said, many manufacturers make separate formulas for children and adults. For example, Zyrtec 24-Hour Allergy HCl Dissolve Tablets are for adults, while Children’s Zyrtec 24-Hour HCl Dissolve Tablets are for kids. 

Relief time

Benadryl Ultratabs Antihistamine Allergy Relief Tablets

The relief time or duration of allergy medicine for seasonal allergies ranges from 4-24 hours.

If you prefer taking allergy medicine as needed throughout the day, you’ll find several formulas that provide relief for a few hours at a time. Benadryl Ultratabs Antihistamine Allergy Relief Tablets, for example, can be taken every 4-6 hours.

For those seeking all-day relief, there are 24-hour allergy medicines. Claritin 24 and Xyzal Allergy 24-Hour can both be taken once a day. While 24-hour formulas are touted to provide continuous relief, some consumers report they wear off toward the end of the day. 

Side effects

It comes as no surprise that, like other medications, allergy medicine for seasonal allergies may have side effects. For that reason, it’s strongly advised to read the product label carefully before use.

Some of the most common side effects you may experience include drowsiness, upset stomach and dizziness.

Another side effect is dependency, which may occur with prolonged use of allergy medication. In these situations, people experience difficulty breathing or managing symptoms independently.

Cost

Generic-brand allergy medicine for seasonal allergies costs $8-$10 for a monthly supply. Those with more effective active ingredients, like Cetirizine, run as high as $16-$50. Nasal sprays tend to be the most expensive, with many ranging between $20-$40. 

Talk to your doctor

Before you begin taking any over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicine for seasonal allergies, it’s best to talk with your doctor. 

For parents considering using OTC allergy medicine for their kids for the first time, WebMD recommends speaking with their pediatrician regarding dosage, when to take allergy medicine and which formula is best for specific ages.

Forms of allergy medicine

Antihistamines vs. decongestants

Expectorants

Allergy medicine for seasonal allergies falls into two groups: antihistamines and decongestants. Here’s a quick overview of both:

Antihistamines block histamines in your body, which cause reactions to allergens like pollen or ragweed. They’re considered an ideal option for controlling watering eyes and runny noses, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. 

While they’re considered effective at keeping symptoms at bay, they may cause drowsiness and dry mouth. 

Decongestants minimize swelling in your respiratory tract and may clear stuffy noses. Some decongestant allergy medicines are also expectorants, which thin out mucus build-up so you can breathe more easily. 

Some people, however, report dizziness, headaches or difficulty sleeping when taking decongestants.

Tablets

Allegra Allergy 24-Hour Allergy Relief Tablets

Tablets are the most common form of allergy medicine for seasonal allergies. 

While most are swallowed, like Allegra Allergy 24-Hour Allergy Relief Tablets, not all people enjoy swallowing tablets. Fortunately, there are chewable tablets that melt or dissolve in your mouth without water.

Nasal sprays

nasal sprays

Individuals managing nasal congestion often prefer nasal sprays, which may help minimize sneezing, running or itchiness. While using nasal sprays,you insert the nozzle inside your nose and pump the bottle a couple of times to disperse the mist. 

If you’re new to nasal sprays or have a sensitive nose, there are a few formulas on the market that can work for you. 

Vicks Sinex Severe, for example, sprays an ultra-fine mist that is less likely to irritate nostrils with its residue. Nasacort Allergy 24-Hour Nasal Spray is alcohol-free, and users report it doesn’t cause the burning sensation they experienced when using other nasal sprays.

Eye drops

Systane Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops

Some people experience significant seasonal allergy symptoms in their eyes, such as dryness, burning, watering, itchiness or grittiness. Certain eye drops can soothe eyes or alleviate these symptoms. 

Antihistamine drops, for example, are effective at soothing irritation and redness. Some formulas even relieve mild pain or gritty sensations.

Keep in mind that some eye drops require frequent application for ongoing relief. Visine Allergy Multi-Action Antihistamine Drops, for example, may need to be used up to four times a day. If you prefer low-maintenance eye drops, you’ll be better served by extended relief formulas. Some work up to 12 hours, like Systane Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops.

Topical

Benadryl Extra-Strength Anti-Itch Cooling Spray

Topical allergy medications manage skin reactions, such as rashes or swelling, resulting from direct contact with an allergen. In addition to calming redness, they can minimize burning or itching.

Some of the most common topical allergy medications are corticosteroid creams, which have anti-inflammatory properties. These can be applied directly to the skin with fingers or sterile cotton swabs.

To soothe irritation-related pain and burning, some consumers turn to topical analgesic cream.

Analgesics are also available as sprays, which avoid direct contact with affected skin. Benadryl Extra-Strength Anti-Itch Cooling Spray counteracts the burning sensation with a cooling one. It’s often used to treat insect bites or poison ivy rashes.

 

Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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