One of the first posts I wrote when I joined MyAllergyNetwork.com was about how you could know which allergy medicine would be best for you. And to date, it is still one of the most popular articles on this site. Seems allergy medication is a hot topic for allergy sufferers!
I understand why. There is nothing more annoying than trying to get through your day and having to put up with constant sneezing, a runny nose, feeling like your head's going to explode, not to mention itchy eyes, nose and throat, or maybe watering, burning eyes. I've been there with you every step along the way and it is no fun. All we want is a little relief, right?
So, since it's been 3 years since I wrote that original post, I thought it was a good time to revisit the topic and update you on all the new choices you have available now. And that's the good thing about allergies -- they're so common, new medications are being developed all the time.
A Little Background...
Before I get into the new choices that have emerged in the last few years, I'd encourage you to read my original article, where I explain the different types of allergy medicine in detail. There's also a point worth repeating in that article. There is no one way to know which allergy medicine will work best for you. Everyone seems to respond slightly differently to medication.
Personally, I've found that Allegra worked best for me. But I know people who've sworn by one of the other medicines too. Basically, you just have to try them out, one by one. If you find a medicine that works for you, then stick with it as long as you can. If one doesn't work after a few weeks (give it a good two to three weeks, minimum), then try something different.
Changes in the Original Options for Treating Nasal & Eye Allergies
In my other post, I talked mostly about oral medications that were the traditional treatment for allergies. This included antihistamines, both the older kind that are available over the counter, usually for a fairly cheap price, but that can make you sleepy, and also the newer variety that have less side effects but cost more.
When I wrote that post, only one of the newer variety antihistamines, Claritin, was available over the counter (OTC). Since then, Zyrtec has also gone OTC. Allegra continues to be available only by prescription. Singulair is another prescription pill, called a leukotriene blocker that is also available only by prescription.
In addition, a new antihistamine was approved for use in the U.S. at the end of 2007, called Xyzal. I wrote about that here.
The OTC antihistamines are great for people who don't have a doctor or health insurance, but the newer ones can be pretty pricey. However, most discount stores like Walmart offer generic versions that are considerably cheaper than the brand versions. I use generic cetirizine, which is the same thing as Zyrtec and it works just as well.
Another change in the past few years is that many of the older allergy formulations have become less available, including ones that contained pseudoephredrine, such as Drixoral. There are various reasons for these changes, including the fact that pseudoephedrine is an ingredient misused by meth manufacturers. You can still buy these drugs, one packet at a time, in some areas, but they're stored behind the pharmacy counter and you have to show ID to get them.