What antihistamine is best? Cleveland doctors share seasonal allergy tips

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Choosing the right antihistamine can make you as dizzy as some of the drugs themselves.

When pollen and other spring allergens explode in the environment, some allergy sufferers are desperate for the right relief.

"All of the trees, all of the grasses, all of the weeds, anything that can produce pollen I am allergic to it," said allergy patient Amy Horwitz.

This spring has hit her patient particularly hard.

"From like probably mid-March to the end of May, I try to avoid being outside which is sad because it's the time of year that starts getting beautiful," she said.

"This season has been  probably one of the worsts just because the weather has been so erratic," said Dr. Tina Abraham, a University Hospitals Allergist.

She said there isn't one antihistamine choice that's better for a specific allergen.

"It's not pollen-specific. Treatment for pollen specific things would be like allergy shots, where we create serums that are specific to what you are allergic to," she said.

She favors Zyrtec, but it can make you feel sedated -- that can be avoided with Allegra.

When you are selecting over the counter antihistamines, Drug Mart pharmacist, Michelle Brett said it's unfortunately a game of trial and error.

"For a lot of people around here price is a big factor. They're all pretty equally effective in regards to side effects they're all similarly effective. There's a couple that may cause a little bit more drowsiness than others," Brett said.

She says store brands are just as effective as name brands.  If you are prone to drowsiness with an antihistamine that works well on your symptoms, Abraham said there's a workaround.

"It is best to take it at night in case it is sedating to you and your body gets used to it after awhile. So that's the best part. Take the Zyrtec for some time and in a few weeks it's easy to say 'Hey it doesn't make me drowsy anymore,'" she said.

Abraham said if you take a 24 hour antihistamine that doesn't work for you, you don't have to wait until the next day for relief.

"So we do see on the box it says '24 hour only' Claratin, Allegra or Zyrtec. You can actually double dose on that. And Zyrtec is one of those where it says 10 milligrams once a day, you can do up to 20 milligrams twice a day as directed by your physician," she said.

Brett said Zyrtec and Zyzal tend to work faster, in about an hour, as opposed to two or three hours for others.

To lessen your symptoms, doctors recommend changing your clothes when you come in from outside, showering off before going to bed, and keeping the windows closed.

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