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How do I Choose the Best OTC Antihistamine?

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  • Written By: K. Gierok
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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With so many medications currently on the market, making an informed decision about which medication is best can, at times, seem impossible. By keeping a few basic guidelines in mind, however, patients suffering from allergic reactions can make an informed choice about over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines. For best results when choosing an antihistamine, patients should first consider what has caused the allergic reaction and identify the major symptoms of the allergic reaction. After choosing a possible OTC antihistamine, patients should consult with their physicians in order to make sure possible medication interactions are negligible.

One of the most important first steps when choosing an OTC antihistamine is to evaluate what actually has caused the allergic reaction. Typically, the most common cause of allergic reactions and the reason that most people seek out an OTC antihistamine is due to seasonal or pet allergies. Basic OTC antihistamines for people suffering from seasonal allergies include loratadine or certirizine, both of which can typically be easily found in most drugstores. In contrast, individuals who link their allergic reactions not to seasonal or pet causes, but instead to more serious causes such as bee stings, hives, or food allergies, must typically use diphenhydramine. While this medication is quite effective, some more serious allergic reactions may require medical assistance.

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Individuals who suffer from allergic reactions should also consider their symptoms. Though a one-size-fits-all antihistamine may be effective for some, others may require medications that target their specific symptoms. For those who have excessive amounts of eye itching, an antihistamine OTC eye drop, such as ketotifin may be a good choice. In contrast, individuals who suffer from sinus pressure due to seasonal or pet allergies should look for a decongestant, such as pseudoephedrine.

When choosing an OTC antihistamine, individuals should work with their doctor in order to make sure that the medication will not have any negative interactions with their previously prescribed medications. For best results, patients should actually bring in the box containing the OTC antihistamine that they are interested in. The patient's physician will be able to review the medication, and make a determination on whether or not it is appropriate for the patient suffering from allergies.

Patients may also want to seek out opinions on the OTC antihistamine that they are interested in purchasing. While most antihistamines are required to undergo extensive government testing, some items may be able to sneak onto shelves under the radar. Individuals should do as much research on the medication that they are considering as possible in order to be sure that it is not only highly effective, but also free from risk.

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