Nice weather means open windows, lawn mowing, and flowering plants. All of these things add up to a perfect storm for seasonal allergy sufferers. As you have probably seen and heard through advertisements, there are several choices out there when it comes to over the counter (OTC) medications, so how do you make the right choice for you and your loved ones? The answer is easy: let Whaley's help you make an educated choice!
Antihistamines have been around for a long time and work by blocking the histaminic (allergic) reaction in your body. When you encounter allergens like fresh cut grass or pollen, they stimulate histamine receptors in your body that trigger a chain reaction, eventually leading to inflammation and itching (rashes, sneezing, etc.). When you take a daily antihistamine, you are blocking the histamine receptors in your body and, when you come in contact with allergens, they can't start a chain reaction. Think of it like a car trying to park in a parking garage. The car is the allergen, driving around looking for a spot to park. When it parks, it begins to unload (a chain reaction). The antihistamine is like a cone that you place in all of the open spots to prevent the car from parking.
Currently, there are several antihistamines available without a prescription, but they generally fall into one of two categories: sedating or non-sedating. The newer ones that you see on the TV (Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec) are non-sedating and longer acting. It is easy for one to forget about the older ones, but they still have their place. The easiest way to determine which type and which specific one you may need is to ask yourself a couple of questions: 1) is the allergic reaction ongoing and does it require a long-acting medication? 2) Does the reaction only occur at certain times or when doing certain activities (mowing, gardening, etc.)? IF you answer "yes" to the first question, you have narrowed your choices to Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra. If you answer "yes" to the second question, then you would get the most benefit from Benadryl or Chlor-trimeton.
The bottom line is this: there is no one OTC antihistamine that is better than the other. They each have their role and you just need to ask yourself what you really need to do. You may be able to save yourself a little time and money.