The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has found that 1 out of 5 Americans suffer from allergies. Whether it is indoor/outdoor, food/drug, latex, insect, skin or eye-related, allergy is ranked the 5th most chronic disease in the United States. With this being said, it is not surprising that people are searching for relief through medication. With the number of allergy sufferers on the rise, previous prescription-only allergy medications are now available in both an over-the-counter capacity as well as in generic form. Finding a medication that works for you can be a frustrating process. Depending on whether or not you are looking for an over-the-counter solution or are in need of something that is prescription-strength, studies have been done ranking the best options available.
The type of drug that is used most effectively in the treatment of allergies is called an antihistamine. Antihistamines work by inhibiting the action of histamine (cause of the allergy) in the body by blocking the receptors of histamine. In the past, antihistamines commonly had sedating properties, but those used today have a reduced tendency to cause sleepiness.
Over-the-counter allergy medications are best used for those who suffer mild to moderate symptoms on occasion. Consumer Reports ranks generic Cetirizine (Zytrec) and Loratadine (Claritin) as the best over-the-counter options for allergy sufferers. Cetirizine, Loratadine, and anithistamines are all currently available as low-cost generic drugs without a prescription in drug, food, and many small convenience stores. Loratadine and Cetirizine are made by several companies and larger pharmacy chains usually have their own version. A generic is simply a copy of the original drug (i.e. a brand name). Most brand names exist for marketing purposes only after a generic becomes available.
All three allergy medications are also available by prescription, which can be advantageous to chronic allergy-sufferers who will be on these medications on a regular basis. If you choose to speak with a doctor and obtain a prescription, be sure to discuss cost concerns, previous experiences with allergy medications, and the pros and cons of generic versus brand name for your needs. If your doctor sends out a prescription, seeking out helpful discounts or coupons may be in your best interest. We offer coupons for these and many other allergy medications at our Allergies Conditions Page.
Cetirizine and Loratadine are better versions of previous antihistamines because they are known to cause little to no side effects in most people, have less of a drowsy effect, take effect in 1 to 3 hours or less, and have a lasting duration of 12 to 24 hours. Whether you are an occasional or daily sufferer of allergies, exploring your options and figuring out the best fit for you is the key to overcoming present and future allergy symptoms.