Finding the right medication is key to getting through allergy season

In last week’s blog we talked about how to determine if you have seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis. This week we are going to talk about some oral Over the Counter (OTC) medications you can use to treat your allergies.

The main class of medications used to treat seasonal allergies is called oral second-generation antihistamines. Some examples of these are Zyrtec (cetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine), Claritin or Alavert (loratadine), and a newly OTC item Xyzal (levocetirizine). All of these second-generation antihistamines are non-drowsy, so they won’t affect your ability to get around during the day.

These will treat your runny/itchy nose, sneezing, watery/itchy eyes and some nasal congestion. If you are experiencing a lot of congestion, some of these drugs come combined with pseudoephedrine, a decongestant. These will treat your more severe nasal congestion.

The brand names of these drugs are Allegra-D, Zyrtec-D and Claritin-D. These drugs are mostly dosed once daily (see chart below) and are rapid acting. For best results, use daily during the allergy season. If you try one drug and it isn’t working for you, you can try another one of these medications, because some people respond differently to each of these.

Check back next week for more info on prescription medications, nasal medications and inhalers to treat some of your more severe allergic symptoms! Thanks for reading and as always, stop in to Four Corners Pharmacy and ask your pharmacist if you have any questions!

Second Generation Antihistamines

Drug Name

Dose

(based on age)

Is it available as a Generic drug?

Common Side Effects

Approved Ages

Cetirizine (Zyrtec)

2-5 y/o: 2.5 mg 1-2/day

6-12 y/o: 5-10 mg/day

12-65 y/o: 10 mg/day

66-76 y/o: 5-10 mg/day

≥77 y/o: 5 mg/day

Yes

Occasional sedation, mucosal dryness, urinary retention

≥6 months old

Levocetirizine

(Xyzal)

2-5 y/o: 1.25 mg/day

6-11 y/o: 2.5 mg/day

≥12 y/o: 2.5-5 mg/day

No

Occasional sedation, mucosal dryness, urinary retention

≥6 months old

Fexofenadine

(Allegra)

2-11 y/o: 30 mg twice/day

≥12 y/o: 60 mg twice/day

              OR 180 mg/day

Yes

Occasional headache

≥2 years old

Loratadine

(Claritin)

2-5 y/o: 5 mg/day

≥6 y/o: 10 mg/day

Yes

Possible sedation at high doses

≥2 years old

References

Seidman MD, Gurgel RK and Lin SY. Clinical Practice Guideline: Allergic Rhinitis. Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery. 2015; 152(1S): S1-S43.

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