Ask a Pharmacist: Evaluating the Most Common Medications for Allergies

Allergy season: the time of year where many of us need medication for quick relief from the itchy eyes and sneezing. There are many different allergy medications to choose from, all of which claim to solve different allergy complications. Our CEO and lead pharmacist, Ken Hammond, has broken down the most frequently prescribed allergy medications and the most common over-the-counter medications to explain how they can relieve allergy symptoms.

“All of the drugs mentioned have a variety of mechanisms of action, the most common being antihistamines and anti-inflammatory agents,” Hammond said.

Over-the-Counter Allergy Medications

“The most commonly recommended allergy medications are those available over the counter, all of which originally required a prescription. These include Benadryl, Chlor-Trimeton, Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, and Flonase,” Hammond said.

Benadryl - Benadryl is used to suppress coughs and to treat itching, runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. Benadryl is effective; however, its most common side effect is sleepiness, so pharmacists recommended using caution if driving while on the medication.

Chlor-Trimeton - Chlor-Trimeton is an antihistamine that relieves sinus congestion and pressure. Common side-effects of this medication include dizziness, sleepiness, and a dry mouth, nose, and throat.

Claritin - Claritin is a common antihistamine used to treat most allergy symptoms, including sneezing, itching, and watery eyes. Claritin can also be used to treat hives. Claritin can cause wheezing and flu-like symptoms in young children and can cause headaches in those over the age of 12.

Allegra - Allegra is typically used for seasonal allergies, especially in the springtime. It can also be used to treat itchy skin. Allegra’s most common side effect is nausea, but it can also cause body aches.

Zyrtec - Zyrtec treats most allergy symptoms: sneezing, itching, and runny nose. It can also treat swelling due to hives. However, Zyrtec is known to slow thinking or physical reactions as a side effect. It can also cause irritability.

Flonase - Flonase is a nasal spray that works as an anti-inflammatory to relieve nasal congestion. If there is irritated skin in the nose, this nasal spray is known to cause minor nose bleeds.

Prescribed Allergy Medications

“Of those allergy medications that still require a prescription, Singulair and Xyzal are popular oral medications, and Astelin nasal spray and Patanol eye drops are also fairly popular. Prednisone is also commonly prescribed for allergic reactions,” Hammond said.

Singulair - Singulair helps to prevent the chemicals that cause allergies in your lungs. It is very commonly used to prevent asthma attacks, but it is also used to help those with year-round allergies. As a side effect, it can cause stomach pain, bloody noses, or heartburn.

Xyzal - Xyzal is most commonly used for year-round allergies, and can also treat hives. It has no major side effects, but can cause body aches and sleepiness.

Astelin - Astelin is a nasal spray that treats seasonal allergies, typically in the springtime, and prevents sneezing and runny nose. Its most common side effect is a bitter taste in the mouth, and it can also cause sleepiness.

Patanol - Patanol is used in the form of eye drops and treats irritated and red eyes due to allergies. Although it is applied directly to the eyes, its most common side effects are headaches or sore throats.

Prednisone - Prednisone reduces inflammation in the body, and treats not only allergies, but skin conditions, arthritis, and breathing conditions as well. Prednisone has several side effects, and a doctor should be contacted immediately if one occurs. Some of these include aggression, blurred vision, mood changes, and weight gain.

Speak with your pharmacist about your symptoms if you need assistance choosing the best allergy medication option for you or a loved one. Together with your physician, your pharmacist can help find a solution to alleviate your discomfort during allergy season.

The free Community Cares Rx discount card can provide up to 70% discounts on various prescription allergy medications. View our pharmacy locator to see which pharmacies near you are our partners, and print your discount card today.

How to Navigate Allergy Season When You Have Asthma

In allergic asthma - the most common type of asthma - the same allergens that cause sneezing and watery eyes in most people can trigger serious asthma attacks. This condition is more serious in children; 90% of children have asthma and allergies, opposed to only 50% of adults.

Allergic Asthma is triggered by the same allergens that cause allergies, including dust, pollen, and mold. It can also be triggered by exercise or breathing smoke. For patients wanting to navigate the high-allergen season, knowing the triggers for allergic asthma is key.

Clean Indoor Air

There is only so much we can avoid when it comes to outdoor allergens, so it’s important to control what can trigger an asthma attack indoors. One of the best ways to do this is to purchase a HEPA filter. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) mechanical filters force air through mesh to capture allergens such as pollen, pet dander, smoke, and dust. This should be kept in the bedroom, where you sleep.

Other allergens that can be avoided within an indoor space include:

  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Pet Dander
  • Perfume
  • Cleaning supplies that produce strong chemical odors

Fortunately, there are many treatment options for allergic asthma that make allergy season less of a threat. With Community Cares Rx, many of these options can be purchased at a discount.

Short-Acting Bronchodilators - These rescue inhalers are the typical go-to medication for an asthma patient, and act very quickly in the time of need. These open up the airways in the lungs and their effects last four to six hours.

Long-Acting Bronchodilators - These are similar to short-acting bronchodilators, but should be used only twice a day and last up to 12 hours. This form of medication should never be taken alone and should be taken with inhaled steroids.

Inhaled Steroids - Through a portable breathing device, this medication can be inhaled to decrease the inflammation of the lungs. This can strengthen the lungs over time and may help decrease dependence on a rescue inhaler.

Could You Be at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

Nine out of 10 adults in America are at risk for type 2 diabetes and don’t even realize it. While having a family member with type 2 diabetes increases your risk of developing this disease, many other risk factors can also increase your chances.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, in which case the body does not process insulin properly. Type 2 can be treated with lifestyle changes, medications, and insulin -- and the sooner it can be diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin.

Common Symptoms

The symptoms for type 2 diabetes develop slowly many people live with the disease for years before receiving a diagnosis. See a doctor if you notice any of these type 2 diabetes symptoms:

  • Increased hunger - Without enough insulin moving sugar into the cells, energy is depleted, which triggers hunger.
  • Weight loss - While eating more than usual because of the increase in hunger, type 2 diabetes takes away the ability to metabolize glucose. Calories are then lost as excess glucose, causing rapid weight loss.
  • Increased Thirst - The extra sugar building up in the bloodstream causes fluid to be pulled from the tissues, causing thirst. This can also cause increased urination.
  • Blurred vision - Fluid can be pulled from eye lenses if blood sugar is too high, affecting the ability to focus.
  • Areas of darkening skin - A frequent sign of insulin resistance is the development of patches of dark skin in the folds and creases of the body.
  • Fatigue - Irritation and fatigue can occur once the cells are deprived of sugar.
  • Frequent infections - The decrease in insulin can affect the ability to heal infections.

Take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test

Because the symptoms for type 2 diabetes can develop slowly, the American Diabetes Association created a 60-second test to alert individuals that they may be at risk. After completing the test, the association will follow up with the user to share more information and ways to lower your risk, or alerts to seek professional care.

The test is printable, making it easy to hand out to classrooms, work groups, and families. The Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test is completely free.

Medications for Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes will require medication if recommended diet and exercise plans are not enough to control blood sugar levels. There are many options for medication, but it is important to work with a physician to find the right medication for your body.

In our blog, Evaluating the Most Prescribed Medications for Type 2 Diabetes, our pharmacist evaluates four of the most popular generic type 2 diabetes drugs and their brand name counterparts to assist you in making your diabetes medication decision.

For discounts on diabetes prescriptions and more, print our free prescription discount card.