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Seasonal Allergies:

Nature Gives and Takes Away

The beauty of spring beckons us outside, and that’s when it happens: we are bombarded by the dreaded pollen. Pollen is wonderful for the purposes of sustaining life as we know it; however, for those of us that suffer from seasonal allergies, we need a way to enjoy the season without the pesky pollen-related symptoms.

So what are we to do? Should we reach for Claritin? Or Zyrtec? Or Allegra? Which one is better? I get asked that question often by people that know I am a pharmacist. All of these are antihistamine drugs that treat symptoms such as itching, runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing from “hay fever” and other allergies. They are also used to relieve itching from hives. However, they do not prevent hives or prevent/treat a serious allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis). 

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If we really want to compare these to find out which one is the best, we need to see their functions side-by-side. Let’s take a look at the chart below:

 

Claritin (loratadin)

Clarinex (desloratadine)

Allegra (fexofenadine)

Zyrtec (cetirizine)

Xyzal (levocetirizine)

Treats

Itching, running nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and itching from hives.

Nasal and non-nasal symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis in patients 2 years of age and older.

Pruritus, reduction in the number of hives, and size of hives, in patients with chronic idiopathic urticaria 6 months of age and older.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies (hay fever) in adults and children;

skin itching and hives caused by a condition called chronic idiopathic urticaria in adults and children.

Cold or allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itching, watery eyes, or runny nose;

itching and swelling caused by chronic urticaria (hives).

Symptoms of year-round (perennial) allergies in children who are at least 6 months old;

itching and swelling caused by chronic urticaria (hives) in adults and children who are at least 6 months old.

Frequency of Use

1 x per day

1 x per day

1-2 x per day

1 x per day

1 x per day

Side Effects

Headache; feeling tired or drowsy; stomach pain, vomiting; dry mouth; or feeling nervous or hyperactive.

Headache; fatigue, pharyngitis, and nausea; dry mouth, dizziness; sleepiness, drowsiness; congestion; body aches;

Headache; otitis media; nausea; vomiting; back pain, diarrhea; dizziness; nasal congestion; pain in arms and legs; ringing in ears; sore throat

Adults and children ≥12 years of age: Somnolence, fatigue, dry mouth, insomnia

 

Children 2–11 years of age: Headache, pharyngitis, abdominal pain.

 

Children 6 months to 2 years of age: Irritability, fussiness, insomnia, fatigue, malaise.

Headache; muscle aches; sleepiness; sore throat; runny nose; diarrhea

Stop using if:

fast or uneven heart rate;

severe headache; or

a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

anapphylaxis;  shortness of breath; swelling; itchiness; irregular heart beats;

chest tightness; shortness of breath; hive-like swelling on face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet or sex organs

difficulty breathing; seizures; twiching;

anxiety; bloody nose; fever; nausea; dark urine; difficulty breathing; seizures; double vision

Warnings

Caution with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, glaucoma, prostate enlargement, renal impairment, seizure disorder, thyroid disorder.

NOTE: The chart above is not an all-inclusive list of side effects or reasons to stop using!*

If you are interested in MAYBE feeling better, but walking around with dry mouth, dry skin, and, in some instances, even feeling dizzy, then choose one of these drugs. They are readily available in any pharmacy chain, grocery store, or even gas stations for a very convenient price.

However, did you know there are a number of other choices to reduce seasonal allergies symptoms? The following list do not have the same side effects as the ones above. Here is a list of the ones we use at our house:

  1. L-ascorbate (Vitamin C) from PERQUE is safe and most effective form I know. It is corn-free, too. Vitamin C supports the immune system, therefore it helps with allergies and colds. It also provides antioxidant support, thus helping the body fight infections and inflammation.
  2. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid (which is code for plant pigments) from the sacred Saphora Japonica tree. It helps reduce allergic and inflammatory responses by promoting repair and stabilizing cell membranes. Additionally, there is research that confirms that quercetin dihydrate has antiviral and antioxidant benefits. My favorite brand for quercetin is PERQUE. I use their Repair Guard every time my kids are dealing with seasonal allergies or seem like they may be catching a cold.
  3. Albizia Complex from Standard Process is a favorite of mine. It contains herbs, such as Albizia, Chinese Skullcap, and Feverfew. These herbs were used traditionally to help maintain normal respiratory tract and healthy skin. They assist in maintaining healthy breathing passages to support free and clear breathing. They also support a normal immune response to things like pollen and other seasonal stresses. Moreover, they support the body’s organs of elimination, thus helping with detoxification.

There are many more alternative solutions to seasonal allergies such as essential oils; specifically, lemon, lavender, and peppermint oils make a wonderful combination. Other herbs like stinging nettle can benefit. 

When nature and its beauty gives us seasonal allergies, it also provides us with solutions to fight them off.  With such an abundance of natural solutions there is no need to ever reach for the traditional allergy-relief drugs ever again! The choice is yours!

References:

https://www.drugs.com/claritin.html

https://www.drugs.com/pro/clarinex.html

https://www.drugs.com/allegra.html

https://www.drugs.com/zyrtec.html

https://www.drugs.com/xyzal.html

Essential Oils Pocket Reference.  6th edition, p.228

Romm, A. Botanical Medicine For Women’s Health. 2nd edition, p. 371