ZocdocAnswersHow do I know which over the counter allergy medication to purchase?

Question

How do I know which over the counter allergy medication to purchase?

I am going to start taking over the counter allergy medication. I don't know which one to buy though. It seems like there are a lot of different kinds. Is one better for some allergies and another is better for other kinds. I think I just have seasonal mold allergies.

Answer

There are two different kinds of common medications that are used for allergy symptoms which you can buy over the counter. Both are types of anti histamines, but the first class are the sedating anti histamines (diphenhydramine or Benadryl is the most common one) and the second class are the non sedating anti histamines (which include fexofenadine / Allegra, loratidine / Claritine, and cetirizine / Zyrtec). For most cases of indoor and seasonal allergies, you will want to use a non sedating anti histamine. The non sedating anti histamines work just as well, if not better, than the sedating anti histamines. Furthermore, they have a longer time of action, which means you only have to take them once or twice a day. Finally, they have many less side effects! In addition to this, it would be good to get advice from your primary care doctor, especially if the over the counter medications are not providing all of the relief that you need. Your doctor can examine you and confirm the diagnosis of allergies. They can also help you decide whether you need additional prescription medications for your allergies in addition to the over the counter medications. Make an appointment with your doctor today!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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