Which hayfever medicine is the best?

It's that time of year when the pollen count is high and even those who have never suffered from hayfever find themselves feeling a little under the weather.

Hayfever is very common and possibly one of the most annoying allergies that makes you feel ill when there is no reason to be unwell! Symptoms include, itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing and coughing. In terms of treatment there are plenty of options to choose from but it can become very confusing and frustrating when trying to decide what would be the quickest and most effective treatment. 

Firstly, it is easy to identify antihistamines as a primary source of allergy relief. The first generation antihistamines were good but they often caused drowsiness which meant second generation antihistamines gained popularity as they are non-drowsy. There are three kinds of common antihistamines that include cetirizine, loratadine and acrivastine. Generally, they are given in the same dosage of 10mg and under different brand names and they will essentially all have the same effect. So it just depends on whether a person prefers a particular brand or will buy a cheaper generic. 

An antihistamine will only take care of basic allergy symptoms it may not be enough to help with more extreme symptoms. There are nasal sprays and eye drops to help with these. I have found that over the counter medicine is good when it is extended release so that you don’t have to keep taking medicine all day however, I don’t feel that these medicines give complete relief from symptoms. 

Recently, my mother brought me back some new allergy medicines from the US that have recently come off prescription and are available as over the counter. I found that they work dramatically well because the ingredients are quite powerful! It’s called Zyrtec-D which is a combination of cetirizine 5mg and pseudoephedrine which is 120mg. Pseudoephedrine can be sold over the counter in the UK but is generally controlled by pharmacist recommendation only. Sudafed uses phenylephrine as a substitute however, the difference in effect may be quite large. For me, Zyrtec-D has worked better than other antihistamines possibly for the potent decongestant properties although it probably won’t be available in the UK. Is it unfair that the US give out stronger products over the counter than the UK? Or is it because there is a good reason that this kind of medicine should not be available unless on prescription?

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, June 2012;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.69440