Points to consider before buying an OTC allergy medicine:
Don’t choose a product with more medications than you have symptoms.
Read the label for side effects and drug interactions.
Consult your pharmacist.
For the estimated 36 million Americans who will continue to sniffle and sneeze into the fall¹, allergy symptoms can be just as bad as they are in spring. A quick trip to the pharmacy for an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine can quickly become an overwhelming experience concedes a University of the Sciences in Philadelphia expert.
Dr. Daniel A. Hussar, who is the Remington professor of pharmacy at the University’s Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, strongly recommends that patients speak with a pharmacist before selecting the OTC product that will be the most effective and safest to use for the symptoms that they are experiencing.
“Allergy sufferers are faced with shelf after shelf of products that often have similar names,” explained Dr. Hussar. “Many times, selection of a product is based on an advertisement or individuals are impressed by products that have a large number of ingredients. To determine which medication is right for you, it’s essential to know what is triggering your symptoms.”
A runny and itchy nose, sneezing, and watery eyes, signal the body’s reaction to elevated histamine levels. Dr. Hussar suggests that an antihistamine may be sufficient treatment by itself. Add nasal congestion to the mix of symptoms and individuals find that they now also need to be treated with a decongestant. Community pharmacists are a valuable resource to provide guidance on which OTC medications should be used, medication ingredients, usage, side-effects, and possible drug interactions.
“Many antihistamines have the ability to make people drowsy, with the exception of loratadine – known by brand names like Claritin and Alavert,” said Dr. Hussar. “Nasal spray and oral decongestants have different usage limitations that must be adhered to. If used for more than three days, nasal spray may result in dependence and users may develop a response called ‘rebound congestion’: when the effect of a dose wears off, the congestion comes back, and comes back sooner after each dose.”
It’s enough to give anyone a headache – which of course is another allergy symptom, along with postnasal drip and coughing. If you have questions about treating fall allergies, or want to ensure that you’re correctly using the most effective medicine for your symptoms – your local pharmacist is available to help guide you toward effective allergy relief.
¹According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)