MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s that time of year again when allergies bring on the itchy noses, watery eyes and sneezing.
With so many over-the-counter options, how do you find which works best for you?
“When I graduated back in the 70s, I make a joke about only having to know 100 medications,” said Don Uden, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy. “And now there’s 1,000 medications. It’s hard to keep up.”
Uden says there are three classes of allergy medications, and all three become very popular in April and May.
“There are antihistamines, decongestants and the intranasal steroids,” Uden said.
Antihistamines, like Claritin and Allegra, work the same by taking care of sneezing and a runny nose. Both can provide relief, but your body may respond better to one over the other.
Uden says that’s because pharmaceutical companies use different ingredients to make antihistamines.
“Allegra is fexofenadine and Claritin is loratadine,” he said.
It’s the same with steroids, which work to relieve all kinds of allergy symptoms.
“There are two different steroids, Nasonex and Flonase, and they’re both equally effective,” Uden said.
He says the best way to figure out which pill or spray works best is simply trial and error — and there’s no better time than now to try.
While the big names you see on TV can help, Uden says generics are just as good.
“The generics have the exact same medications in them as there are in the brand-name drugs,” he said.
Uden says it’s best to try an over-the-counter medications for a couple weeks before you move on to something else. It can take some time before it starts working effectively.