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.

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