Over-The-Counter vs. Prescription Allergy Meds

Springtime for many people is a trigger for seasonal allergies. Allergies affect over 35 million Americans suffer from allergies. Outdoor allergic reactions are common as pollen from trees, plants, grass and flowers is in the air.

People often suffer during allergy season from bothersome allergy symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, hives and itchy, watery eyes. Many turn to over the counter or prescription allergy medication for some sort of relief.

There is no cure for allergies, but depending on your symptoms, antihistamines, decongestants or a combination of both can be helpful.

Antihistamines can either be purchased over the counter or prescribed by a doctor. They come in different forms such as pills, liquid, nasal spray and eye drops. Over the counter brands of antihistamines include Allegra, Benadryl, Dimetane and Tavist. Ocu-Hist is an over the counter eye drop that can be used to relieve red, itchy eyes.

Prescription antihistamines in pill form include Clarinex and Xyzal. Astelin is a nasal antihistamine, while Patanol, Elestat and Optivar are in the form of eye drops.

Some antihistamines purchased over the counter may cause drowsiness.

Decongestants help with allergy congestion and come in pill, nasal spray, eye drop, liquid form. Sudafed is an over the counter decongestant that can be purchased as tablets or liquid. Neo-Synephrine and Afrin are nasal sprays and Visine eye drops treat itchy, red eyes.   

Many people get combination drugs that consist of both antihistamines and decongestants. Allegra-S and Zytrec-D are combination drugs that can be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over the counter.

Side effects of decongestants may include elevated blood pressure and insomnia. 

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