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Top Over The Counter Medications For Seasonal Allergies

Over-the-Counter (OTC) medications have different types of active ingredients that fight against seasonal allergies. These drugs can help treat symptoms of runny nose, cough, congestion, dry eyes, and rash. Millions of people around the world are affected by chronic allergies, and there is no doubt about the distress they cause.  A study conducted in 2017 published that 80% of the participants reported that seasonal allergies significantly interfere with and reduce the quality of life. Although the symptoms of seasonal allergies cannot go away overnight, certain OTC medications can help alleviate some of the symptoms and bring comfort. Here are some of the top over-the-counter medications to treat seasonal allergies:

Oral Antihistamines

Oral antihistamines are great for battling the most common allergy symptoms, such as watery eyes, sneezing, drippy nose, and itching. Fortunately, many people are able to tolerate these medicines without facing any issues. Oral antihistamines can be consumed as required or every day until the symptoms tone down. However, before you pop a pill, be sure to check if it makes you drowsy so that you can take it at the right time.

How Do Antihistamines Treat Allergies?

When your body comes into contact with the compound that causes the allergy, such as pet dander, pollen, dust mites, or ragweed; it creates chemicals known as histamines. Histamines make the tissues inside the nose swell up; hence, making it stuffy and causing the eyes, nose, and mouth to sometimes run and become itchy. You can also develop a red rash on the skin, called hives.

Antihistamines block or substantially reduce histamines, stopping allergic reactions. These medicines work wonders to relieve a person from several symptoms of seasonal allergies. However, these medicines don’t work for every symptom.

What Types of Antihistamines Are Available OTC?

These medicines are available in different forms like liquid, spray, capsules, eye drops, and tablets. They include:

Brompheniramine (Dimetane)

This medication is used to treat common symptoms like flu and congestion. Dimetane helps to relieve itchy eyes and nose, watery eyes, sore throat, sneezing, and runny nose. It also provides relief from congestion in the ears. Make sure that you carefully read the package instructions before using this medicine to ensure that this is the right product for you because some products may have similar names but different ingredients for different uses. Thus, taking the wrong medication could cause adverse effects. You can ask your pharmacist if you have any questions about the medicine.

Cetirizine (Zyrtec)

Cetirizine is an antihistamine that is used to relieve symptoms associated with seasonal allergies, such as runny nose, watery eyes, itchy eyes and nose, hives, sneezing, and itching. It provides relief by blocking a natural compound that causes allergic reactions – histamine – produced by the body. Cetirizine, however, only provides temporary relief and does not prevent hives from forming or serious allergic reactions. So if your doctor prescribes a different medication for any severe symptoms, make sure that you don’t use Cetirizine with it.

Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)

Chlorpheniramine is another type of antihistamine that provides quick relief from hay fever, allergies, and the common cold. The symptoms include sore throat, skin rash, runny nose, sneezing, and watery and itchy eyes. As your body produces histamine during an allergic reaction, Chlorpheniramine fights and ensures that it is blocked to prevent allergies from getting worse. The medicine works by blocking a different natural substance called acetylcholine, which is also produced by our body. It aids in drying up some of the bodily fluids and relieves allergic symptoms. However, cold and cough products have not been very effective in treating children under the age of 6. Therefore, Chlorpheniramine cannot be used for young children unless recommended by a doctor.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

Benadryl is another great option for medication for allergic symptoms, such as cough, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, sore throat, etc. It also fights against the symptoms of vomiting, nausea, and dizziness that generally result from motion sickness. It provides the same effects as any other anti-allergy medicine provided by OTC. Benadryl is also, however, not effective and recommended for young children. It is best to speak with your doctor to understand more about Benadryl.

Zyrtec Allergy Tablets

Zyrtec is great for providing temporary relief from upper respiratory allergies and fever. It provides instant results as the symptoms usually reduce within the span of an hour. In addition, the effects of Zyrtec last up to 24 hours. This medication induces drowsiness, so be sure to take it at an appropriate time.

Nasal Steroids

If you are suffering from sneezing fits, runny or itchy nose, and congestion, you must consider getting nasal steroids. Nasal steroids are available in the form of a spray and are known to be far more effective than any form of oral medication. They can, however, cause nasal burning in sensitive users. You can use these sprays on a regular basis or whenever you need them. Nasal steroids are also very effective in relieving the eye from itchiness or getting too watery.

Flonase Allergy Relief Nasal Spray

Flonase provides instant relief from seasonal and year-round allergies for 24 hours. It can successfully alleviate the symptoms of congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy nose. The medicine also helps to reduce itchiness and water in the eyes. It works by blocking the 6 inflammatory components, known as prostaglandins, tryptase, histamine, chemokines, and leukotrienes. It does not cause drowsiness and is suitable for anyone over the age of two.


There are various medications out there that can treat different types of seasonal allergies. These medications are conveniently available over the counter and do not require the need for a prescription. Nonetheless, it would still be best to consult with your doctor or read the instructions carefully to avoid any adverse side effects.


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