If you suffer from hay fever or other seasonal allergies, you know that when the pollen count goes up, congestion, sneezing, and watery eyes follow. Now there are even more choices for relief. Pharmacy shelves are packed with older antihistamines, such as Benadryl, and newer formulations, such as Claritin. But which ones are best?
Newer antihistamines aren't any more effective at relieving allergy symptoms than older ones, but they are less likely to cause drowsiness. They also have the convenience of once-a-day dosing. But those advantages come with a higher price. Newer medicines, which include loratadine (Claritin and generic) and cetirizine (Zyrtec and generic), run from about $4 to more than $100 per month for prescription strength.
Although drowsiness is less of a problem if you opt for one of the newer antihistamines, you'll still have to watch out for that and other side effects, particularly with high doses. And don't ignore a rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations. They are rare side effects, but if they occur, see your doctor. If you take allergy medications regularly, also see your doctor. Up to one-third of people with allergy symptoms don't actually have allergies; other conditions, such as a cold or even reactions to certain drugs, can cause the sneezing, congestion, or runny nose typical of allergies.
They are inexpensive medications and are available without a prescription.
Newer antihistamines are less likely to cause drowsiness, but they cost more than older drugs. Inexpensive generics are the best option.
|Brand-name or top-selling drug||CR Best Buy Drug||Monthly savings|
|Astepro Four 137-mcg sprays twice per day $72/month||
Loratadine (generic) One