Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Over-the-Counter Non-Drowsy Anti-Histamines for Nasal Allergies

By: Ted Luna - UCF Pharmacist

Because you can’t always avoid allergens, you may need to use occasional over-the-counter (OTC) medications to alleviate your allergy symptoms.

Sneezing, wheezing, watery eyes and a runny nose are not the only symptoms of allergic disease. Many patients with allergies also report feeling “slower” and drowsy. When their allergies are acting up, they have trouble concentrating, sleeping, and remembering things. For students studying for exams allergy symptoms can be very disrupting to their daily routine. However, there are some medications that were once available only by prescription are NOW available over the counter to help allergy sufferers.

When you are exposed to an allergen (i.e. ragweed pollen) it triggers your immune system to go into action. Immune cells known as “mast cells” release a substance called histamine, which attaches to receptors in blood vessels causing them to enlarge. Histamine also binds to other receptors causing redness, swelling, itching and changes in nasal secretions. By blocking histamine receptors, antihistamines prevent most of these symptoms.

The older antihistamines, such as Benadryl ® and Chlor-Trimeton ®, can be very sedating for routine daily use. Luckily, two newer non-sedating antihistamines, Claritin ® and Zyrtec ® are now available over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription. Also combinations of these newer products with decongestants (pseudoephedrine) are now available in pharmacies behind the counter and a signature is required for purchases.

The New OTC Options…..

Examples of non-sedating antihistamines available OTC include:

-Loratadine: available under two different trade names Claritin ® and Alavert ®.

-Cetirizine: available as the product Zyrtec ®.

These antihistamines are taken only once a day and will help alleviate mostly the sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose symptoms. However, nasal congestion symptoms and sinus pressure may require the addition of a decongestant along with the antihistamine.

Examples of non-sedating antihistamines/decongestant combinations include:

-Loratadine/Pseudoephedrine: available as Claritin D-12h ® or Claritin D-24h formulations and also available as Alavert D-12h ®.
-Cetirizine/Pseudoephedrine: Zyrtec D-12h ® is now available OTC without a prescription.

Please consult with YOUR UCF Pharmacist if you need help choosing the appropriate medication for your allergy symptoms. Remember, you now have two locations to choose from…
The main UCF Pharmacy is located inside the Health Center and our new location - Knight Aide - is located in Knight's Plaza, near the Arena.

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