The Best OTC Allergy Meds for Seasonal Allergy Relief

There was once a time when allergy medications were only available through a pharmacist and by prescription.


Fortunately, those days are gone. Especially if you’re plagued with sneezing and itchiness that leaves your eyes permanently red.

Today there are a huge variety of meds you can buy without a prescription. So what are the best OTC allergy meds?

Determining the best OTC allergy meds for you will depend on the reasons for which you need them.

There are many types of allergy treatments available.

With such a wide range of pills, eye drops, and nasal sprays, it can be confusing to figure out which one is right for you.

When it comes to pills, there are two main classifications for allergy meds.

  • First-generation antihistamines were the original medicines OTC meds used to treat allergy symptoms. They are generally effective but tend to cause drowsiness. Examples are Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and Chlortrimeton (chlorpheniramine maleate).
  • Second-generation antihistamines were once by prescription only, but are now available OTC. They are highly effective for many and have few side effects. They can be taken daily. Examples are Allegra (fexofenadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), and Claritin (loratadine).

A Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs based on dosing convenience, cost, effectiveness, and safety recommends the three second-generation antihistamines as the best OTC allergy meds:

  • Cetirizine
  • Fexofenadine
  • Loratadine

They also recommend nasal steroid sprays for seasonal allergies such as:

  • Flonase (fluticasone propionate)
  • Nasonex (mometasone furoate)
  • Nasacort (triamcinolone acetonide)

The drawback of these is that it can take hours or even days before they start to work. They also must be used consistently to derive the greatest benefit.

But what about itchy eyes?

When your eyes are itching and burning, the time required for the pill form of even the best OTC allergy meds to take action may be too long. You can then employ the power of eyedrops.

Eye drops with a combination of pheniramine (an antihistamine) and naphazoline (a decongestant) will treat itchy, watery, red eyes.

The antihistamine gives you relief from itching while the decongestant clears away redness.

Are there natural options for treating allergies?

There are plenty of homeopathic remedies that aim to treat allergies by introducing small amounts of the allergen to the system. These can be found at health food stores.

But as far as searching the shelves at your regular drugstore, your best bet will be anything with saline, which is just a simple solution of salt and water.

There are studies that show that salt and water can help by loosening up stagnant mucus and reducing the inflammation.

As far as saline products, there are sprays that can be squirted directly into the nostrils, and solutions that can be used in a neti pot.

If you don’t have a neti pot, it’s a nasal cup shaped like a genie lantern.

You simply lean over the sink, tip your head slightly to one side and place the long spout into your upper nostril. Tip the cup so the solution pours into your upper nostril.

The solution will then drain out of your lower nostril, loosening mucus along the way. Blow your nose gently, then switch sides.

Whatever your allergy situation, you’ll be able to find the best OTC allergy meds for your situation.

And if you already have an effect on the counter solution for treating your allergies, we’d love your input!


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