Treating Yourself
  With OTC Meds

Do I Need to See
  A Doctor?

Everything About
  Surgical Treatment

Treatment Plans for
Specific Problems


Viral Infections

Acute Bacterial
  Sinus Infections

Chronic Bacterial
  Sinus Infections

Nasal Septal

It is common for people to confuse antihistamines and decongestants. Antihistamines specifically block a part of the allergic pathway, decongestants nonspecifically open nasal passages regardless of the cause by shrinking blood vessels.


"First Generation Antihistamines"

These are the original older antihistamines. They work very well but for many people they have the side effects of sedation and dry mouth. They include original Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Tavist Allerfy (clemastine), and Chlortrimeton (chlorpheniramine). Tavist is the only one with an intrinsic 12 hour duration. Tavist Allergy (plain clemastine fumarate), not Tavist - D is probably the best choice in this category.


"Second Generation" Antihistamines

We now have the ingredient in Claritin available OTC, loratidine. This antihistamine often works well, and has the benefits of being once a day and having no side effects. It has the negatives of being a bit more expensive, and quite a bit less effective in relieving symptoms. Get the generic and give it a try, if it helps, it can be a really good medicine with no side effects or drug interactions. The more effective second generation antihistamines are still prescription, but that may soon change. Allegra, Zyrtec, and Clarinex are the notable examples. Allegra has just become generic and may convert to OTC soon.

My recommendation for an OTC Antihistamine

To keep it simple, the over the counter antihistamine to try first is Tavist Allergy. The ingredient is clemastine fumarate. This medicine is more effective than newer, more expensive prescription antihistamines, but in some people it causes drowsiness. The benefit is that it works better and is much less expensive. The side effects often become less evident over time.

If you find that clemastine fumarate causes too many side effects, you should try loratidine next. This is the ingredient in OTC Claritin, Alavert, and the generic store brands. It is basically free of any side effects and for some people it is quite effective. The negative is that it is more expensive and it is less effective.

OTC Meds

Treating a Cold
  With OTC Meds

Treating Allergies
  With OTC Meds

Treating Chronic
  Problems with OTC

Specific OTC Meds



Decongestant Sprays

Pain Relievers

Cough Suppressants

Mucous Thinners

Saline Rinses

Zinc Gluconate

Cromolyn Spray

Steroid Sprays

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