Healthy Living

What is The Best Over-The-Counter Allergy Medicine?

Apr 15 2024

Are you tired of sneezing, itching and feeling miserable due to seasonal allergies? Are you also frustrated trying to figure out what is the best over-the-counter allergy medicine? If so, you’re not alone!

First, let’s explore some of the types of allergy medications that are available to help you avoid the sniffles and sneezes this spring season.


One of the most common types of over-the-counter allergy medicines is antihistamines. These work by blocking the effects of histamine, a chemical your body releases during an allergic reaction. By blocking histamine, antihistamines can relieve allergy symptoms like itching, sneezing and runny nose.

Some popular antihistamines you can find at your local pharmacy include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec) and fexofenadine (Allegra).


If you’re dealing with a stuffy or congested nose, decongestants may be the way to go. These medicines work by shrinking the blood vessels in your nasal passages, which can help relieve congestion and make it easier to breathe.

Common decongestants include pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and phenylephrine (Sudafed PE). However, it should be noted that in 2023 the FDA advisory panel shared that phenylephrine is ineffective when taken orally. Furthermore, one of the side effects of decongestants is they can raise blood pressure. So, they should be used with caution, especially if you have high blood pressure or heart problems.

Nasal sprays

Nasal sprays work by providing targeted relief right where you need it most and can be a lifesaver for allergy sufferers. Some nasal sprays contain corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation in your nasal passages and can help relieve symptoms like congestion, sneezing and runny nose.

Popular corticosteroid nasal steroids include fluticasone (Flonase) and triamcinolone (Nasacort). There are also saline nasal sprays, which can help clear out mucus and allergens from your nasal passages.

Eye drops

If your allergies are making you suffer from itchy eyes that are red and watery, consider using over-the-counter eye drops. Antihistamine eye drops can help relieve itching and redness, while lubricating eye drops can soothe dryness and irritation.

Look for products containing ingredients like ketotifen (Zaditor) or naphazoline (Clear Eyes).

Combination medicines

Some over-the-counter allergy medications combine different ingredients to provide comprehensive relief from multiple symptoms. For example, you can find combination pills that contain both an antihistamine and a decongestant, offering relief from congestion, sneezing, itching and runny nose all in one convenient dose.

How do I know if I need to take over-the-counter allergy medicine?

If you are experiencing any seasonal allergy symptoms that are impacting your day-to-day life, it might be time to try some over-the-counter allergy medicine. However, even though you don’t need a prescription for these medications, it is still important to first consult with your primary care provider before taking any of them.

First, you’ll want to make sure that your over-the-counter allergy medicine won’t interfere with any other medications you are taking and/or any health conditions you have. Also, depending on the severity and longevity of your allergy symptoms, your provider might want to do some additional testing or look into putting you on a prescription allergy medication.

Is it OK to take allergy pills every day?

With long-term use of over-the-counter-allergy medications, it is important to read their labels and use them as directed. Sometimes there are stipulations on how many consecutive days you should take these medications due to concerns that they will stop relieving you of your allergy symptoms.

Also, follow the dosing instructions, as taking more than the recommended dose of any medication can be dangerous and may lead to unwanted side effects. Again, you first want to consult with your primary care provider before starting any of these medications. They can answer your questions about how often it is OK to take them.

What are some other treatment options for seasonal allergies?

In addition to taking over-the-counter allergy medicine, there are some other steps you can take to minimize your exposure to allergens and reduce your symptoms. For example, try to avoid spending time outdoors during peak pollen times, keep your windows closed and use air conditioning to filter out allergens. Also, shower and change your clothes after being outside to remove pollen from your skin and hair.

So, what is the best over-the-counter allergy medicine?

It’s different for everyone! The best over-the-counter allergy medicine for you to take is based on your allergy symptoms as well as any other health conditions you may have. So, if you are thinking of starting an over-the-counter allergy medication, talk with your primary care provider to come up with the best plan for you.

By taking proactive steps and finding the right over-the-counter allergy medicine for your needs, you can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors without the discomfort of spring seasonal allergies.

Learn about the primary care service we provide at Bon Secours.

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