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Top 10 Non-Drowsy Allergy Medications For A Productive Day

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedMay 29, 2024

For allergy sufferers, finding relief without the side effects of drowsiness is crucial for maintaining productivity throughout the day. Traditional antihistamines like diphenhydramine may bring relief but often come with drowsiness, impacting daily activities.

This issue has led to various problems, including accidents, particularly in situations like driving.

In a study on drug-related fatalities in road traffic accidents, sedative antihistamines contributed to 72% of deaths. Another study revealed that driving after taking diphenhydramine is riskier than driving under the influence of alcohol.

Fortunately, advancements in medical science have introduced active ingredients that provide effective allergy relief without inducing drowsiness.

In this article, we will explore non-drowsy allergy medications and discuss factors such as price, duration of action, availability, and active ingredients to help you make an informed choice for a more productive day.

Understanding Non-Drowsy Allergy Medications

Non-drowsy allergy medications are designed to alleviate allergy symptoms without inducing drowsiness. These medications typically contain antihistamines, which counteract the effects of histamine, a chemical released during an allergic reaction. They may also contain leukotriene inhibitors or even steroids.

Research indicates that non-drowsy antihistamines, often referred to as second-generation antihistamines, have a limited ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. This feature helps avoid significant interaction with the neurons in the central nervous system, resulting in minimal sedation.

Choosing a non-drowsy allergy medication can be especially beneficial for individuals who need to maintain focus and productivity throughout the day.

Types of Non-Drowsy Allergy Medications

The variety of non-drowsy medications available can be helpful when it comes to managing allergies. Understanding the different formats of these medications allows you to tailor your choice based on preferences, symptoms, and age recommendations.

Here are the common types of non-drowsy allergy medications:

Pills

Pills are a straightforward and widely used option for managing allergic reactions. There are several classes of medications commonly used for allergic rhinitis. These include:

  • Antihistamines: Examples include cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), and fexofenadine (Allegra). They block the effects of histamine, a chemical released during allergic reactions, to relieve symptoms like sneezing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes.
  • Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists: Montelukast (Singulair) is an example. It works by blocking leukotrienes, which are inflammatory chemicals involved in allergic reactions. It is particularly useful for individuals who may not find sufficient relief with antihistamines alone.

Nasal Sprays

There are two types of allergy nasal sprays with different mechanisms of action.

  • Antihistamine Nasal Sprays: These nasal sprays contain antihistamine medications, which counteract the effects of histamine. Antihistamines help alleviate symptoms like sneezing, itching, and a runny or congested nose.
  • Steroid Nasal Sprays: In contrast, steroid nasal sprays contain corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory medications. They reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, effectively alleviating symptoms such as nasal congestion, itching, and inflammation.

Eye Drops

Allergy eye drops are a specialized form of medication designed to alleviate symptoms affecting the eyes during allergic reactions. These drops come in both over-the-counter and prescription forms.

Common allergens, such as pollen or pet dander, can provoke uncomfortable eye symptoms, making allergy eye drops a valuable and targeted solution for managing allergic reactions affecting the eyes.

Liquids

Liquid antihistamines, taken orally, offer relief from allergy symptoms. It’s suitable for individuals who prefer a liquid format or those who may have difficulty swallowing pills. According to a board-certified allergist, children as young as 6 can use nasal sprays, while kids as young as 2 can take certain eye drops and oral liquid.

✅ Expert Advice

According to Dr. Aaron Westreich, a New York-based allergist, oral antihistamines are commonly the first choice for most individuals. While effective, Dr. Westreich recommends considering intranasal steroids, which is his go-to allergy medication.

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When choosing non-drowsy allergy meds, knowing the different options helps you make informed decisions that suit your needs. Now, let's look into the potential side effects associated with these medications.

Potential Side Effects and Considerations

Exploring allergy medication involves understanding potential side effects and considerations for each type. Being aware of these factors ensures a safe and effective approach to managing allergy symptoms.

Let's explore the potential side effects of each allergy medication.

  • Antihistamine Pills: Common side effects may include drowsiness (more common with first-generation antihistamines), dry mouth, dizziness, and headache.
  • Leukotriene Antagonist Pills: Side effects of montelukast (Singulair) can include headache, body pain, cough, fever, and sore throat.
  • Antihistamine Nasal Sprays: Some individuals using antihistamine nasal sprays may experience a bitter taste in the mouth.
  • Steroid Nasal Sprays: Side effects are generally mild and may include nasal irritation or nosebleeds. Unlike antihistamine nasal sprays, steroid nasal sprays generally do not leave a bitter taste.
  • Eye Drops: Eye irritation, headaches, and heightened sensitivity to light are among the potential side effects associated with the use of eye drops. For contact lens users, drops should be administered at least 10 minutes before inserting contact lenses.
  • Oral Liquid: Liquid antihistamines come in different flavors, which might be important for people who have specific taste preferences or sensitivities. Side effects would be similar to the pill form of the medication.

Now that we've briefly explored non-drowsy allergy medications, let's examine the top non-drowsy allergy medications that stand out for their efficacy and suitability in addressing various allergy symptoms.

Top 10 Non-Drowsy Allergy Medications

Choosing a non-drowsy allergy medication can be confusing with so many options. We've narrowed it down to the top 10 medications based on the following factors:

  • Price
  • Active ingredient
  • Availability
  • Potential side effects
  • Age considerations

Disclaimer:

The details, information, and prices provided in this article are accurate as of the time of writing. These details may vary over time due to factors such as product updates, market changes, or other external influences. We recommend verifying any crucial information or prices with relevant sources, as fluctuations and updates are possible.

See prices for Allegra Allergy on Amazon

Allegra Allergy, powered by fexofenadine as its active ingredient, effectively addresses the most troublesome allergy symptoms. It ensures a non-drowsy formula while providing continuous relief from allergy symptoms, whether stemming from seasonal changes or pet-related allergens. Allegra caters to both indoor and outdoor allergy concerns.

It’s available in various options, such as Allegra Allergy 24-Hour Gelcaps or Tablets. A bottle of 60 gelcaps (180mg) costs $35.11, while a bottle of 70 tablets (180mg) is available at $37.99.

Catering to younger individuals, Allegra Allergy also offers a liquid form suitable for children ages 2 and up, available in grape and berry flavors. Quick-dissolving tabs, ideal for children 6 years and older, are available in orange cream flavor.

💡 Did You Know?

According to studies, Fexofenadine has the lowest likelihood of causing drowsiness among second-generation antihistamines, ensuring you stay alert and focused throughout the day.

Pros

  • Manufactured by an established global healthcare company.
  • Allergy relief for a full 24 hours with just one or two doses each day.
  • Comes in various dosage forms, including tablets, gelcaps, liquids, and quick-dissolving tabs.
  • All formulations are accessible without a prescription.
  • Fexofenadine is the least likely to cause drowsiness among second-gen antihistamines.

Cons

See prices for HealthCareAisle Allergy Relief on Amazon

HealthCareAisle Allergy Relief is a non-drowsy antihistamine containing Fexofenadine Hydrochloride. This antihistamine is available at a budget-friendly cost of only $10.91 for a pack containing 90 tablets, each with a dosage of 180mg.

This non-drowsy medication temporarily alleviates allergy symptoms associated with hay fever and upper respiratory allergies, including runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, and itching of the nose or throat.

It offers comparable effectiveness to the well-known national brand Allegra Allergy but at a more affordable price. HealthCareAisle Allergy Relief offers a full day of relief with just one 180 mg tablet.

Pros

  • Affordable allergy relief.
  • Taken once a day.
  • Readily accessible over-the-counter.
  • Prime alternative to Allegra offering comparable effectiveness and relief.
  • Available in a 60mg tablet for those who find the 180mg tablet large and challenging to swallow.

Cons

  • The 180mg tablet may pose difficulty for some individuals when swallowing.
See prices for Welmate Allergy Relief on Amazon

Welmate Allergy Relief, featuring Fexofenadine, offers prescription-strength allergy relief comparable to the active ingredient in Allegra Allergy. This antihistamine is clinically proven to provide 24 hours of non-drowsy relief for a range of allergy symptoms, addressing both indoor and outdoor triggers.

Welmate Allergy Relief actively addresses symptoms linked to hay fever, seasonal allergies, and other upper respiratory allergies. A bottle of 100 tablets costs $18.00.

Pros

  • Gluten-free
  • Easy to swallow tablets.
  • Budget-friendly substitute for Allegra.
  • Starts acting within an hour and provides 24-hour relief.

Cons

  • Not recommended to consume with green tea and fruit juices.
  • Not suitable for children under 12 years of age.
  • Some users have reported headaches following the use of the medication.
See prices for ValuMeds Allergy Relief on Amazon

ValuMeds Allergy Relief (Fexofenadine HCL) offers a reliable solution to combat allergies without the drowsy side effects commonly associated with other over-the-counter medications. Priced at $18.04 for a bottle of 100 caplets, ValuMeds provides effective relief from sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and itching in the nose and throat.

Powered by 180mg of Fexofenadine Hydrochloride, their caplets ensure 24-hour relief from both indoor and outdoor allergy symptoms. The convenient and easy-to-swallow tablets allow individuals to control their allergies anytime, anywhere.

Pros

  • Taken only once each day.
  • Provides relief for up to 24 hours.
  • Affordable alternative to Allegra.
  • Available without prescription.
  • Contains fexofenadine, the second-generation antihistamine with the lowest likelihood of causing drowsiness.
  • Easy to swallow.

Cons

  • Not suitable for children under 12 years of age.
  • Fexofenadine's effectiveness may decrease when taken with green tea and citrus juices like grapefruit, apple, or orange.
See prices for HealthA2Z Allergy Relief on Amazon

HealthA2Z Allergy Relief Fexofenadine HCl, priced at $9.45 for a bottle of 30 caplets, provides 24-hour indoor and outdoor allergy relief. Its active ingredient actively blocks the body's allergic responses, offering relief from hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies.

This medication temporarily relieves allergy symptoms including runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, and itching of the throat or nose.

Pros

  • 24-hour allergy relief.
  • Affordable alternative to Allegra.
  • Available without prescription.
  • Each tablet contains 180mg of fexofenadine.

Cons

  • Not recommended for individuals under the age of 12.
  • Some users have mentioned experiencing dry eyes.
  • The efficacy of Fexofenadine may reduce if consumed alongside green tea or citrus juices such as grapefruit, apple, or orange.
See prices for Claritin on Amazon

Claritin, with loratadine as an active ingredient, is an FDA-approved non-drowsy allergy medication. It’s formulated to alleviate symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.

This non-drowsy medication takes effect within one to three hours and offers long-lasting relief for up to 24 hours. Additionally, Claritin is available in tablet, liquid, chewable, and liquid gel forms.

A Claritin tablet costs $0.47, while the liquid-filled capsule is available at $0.57. Children's Claritin chewables and oral liquid come in at $0.90 per tablet and $2.34 per fluid ounce, respectively. These options, available in grape and bubble gum flavors, are suitable for children aged 2 years and above.

Pros

  • Available in tablet, liquid, chewable, and liquid gel forms, catering to diverse preferences.
  • Administered once daily.
  • Over-the-counter availability.
  • Liquid formulations and chewable tablets are suitable for children as young as two years old.
  • Provides allergy relief for up to 24 hours.
  • Easy to swallow tablets and capsules.

Cons

See prices for Alavert Orally Disintegrating Tablets on Amazon

Alavert Orally Disintegrating Tablets provide a convenient option for those seeking relief from allergy symptoms. Designed to dissolve rapidly upon contact with the tongue, this flavored tablet provides 24-hour relief without the need for water.

The active ingredient, loratadine 10 mg, is a non-drowsy antihistamine. When taken as directed, it minimizes sedation, promoting alertness throughout the day. This allergy medication is available over-the-counter, and its price ranges from $21.99 to $24.72 for a pack of 60 tablets.

Alavert's orally disintegrating tablets are available in two flavors - fresh mint and citrus burst. They are suitable for both adults and children aged six years and older.

Pros

  • Convenient on-the-go relief.
  • Loratadine induces less drowsiness than other second-generation antihistamines.
  • Administered once daily.
  • Over-the-counter availability.
  • Relieves sneezing, runny nose, itchy & watery eyes, itchy nose, and itchy throat.
  • Amazon’s choice in the Allergy Medicine category.

Cons

  • Not recommended for children under six years of age.
  • Less potent than other second-generation antihistamines like cetirizine (Zyrtec).
  • Loratadine has a higher risk of side effects for individuals with liver or kidney issues.
See prices for GoodSense Allergy Relief on Amazon

Experience powerful allergy relief with GoodSense Allergy Relief, priced at $6.92 for 30 tablets. Packed with the active ingredient Loratadine, this antihistamine provides a formidable defense against allergy symptoms, comparable to the popular brand Claritin.

One dose of GoodSense Loratadine tablets delivers a full 24 hours of relief from sneezing, runny nose, itching of the nose or throat, and itchy, watery eyes. This allergy medicine ensures strong symptom relief without the unwanted side effects of drowsiness, making it the ideal choice for uninterrupted daily activities.

Pros

  • Administered once daily.
  • Over-the-counter availability.
  • Suitable for children ages six and older.
  • Easy to swallow tablets.
  • Affordable alternative to Claritin.

Cons

  • Loratadine is less potent than other antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec).
  • Short expiration date.
See prices for Amazon Allergy Relief Nasal Spray on Amazon

Priced at just $12.30 for a bottle containing 0.62 fl oz or 18.2 ml, Amazon Basic Care 24-Hour Allergy Relief Nasal Spray offers accessible and effective allergy relief that can be purchased without a prescription. Formulated with the active ingredient Fluticasone Propionate (Glucocorticoid), this nasal spray is comparable to the national brand Flonase Allergy Relief.

In 2016, fluticasone received FDA approval as an over-the-counter medication in the form of a 50 mcg spray, making it a trusted choice for hay fever and upper respiratory allergy symptoms in adults and children over four years of age.

The formulation of this nasal spray can address a range of sensitivities without undesirable daytime drowsiness. It works directly in the nose, blocking common allergic reactions caused by pollen, mold, dust, and pets.

Pros

  • Affordable substitute to Flonase Allergy Relief.
  • Widely accessible over the counter.
  • Alleviates multiple allergy symptoms.
  • Daily administration.
  • Easy to use.

Cons

  • Not suitable for children under four years of age.
  • Nasal steroids can take longer to work than oral antihistamines.
  • Several formulations of fluticasone include milk proteins or lactose, and individuals with confirmed allergies to these components should avoid using this medication.
See prices for Pataday on Amazon

Experience rapid and long-lasting relief from itchy eyes with Pataday Once Daily Relief Extra Strength. It’s the first and only full 24-hour eye allergy relief drop available without a prescription. This allergy relief is available at an approximate cost of $32.90 to $37.99 for a pack containing two 2.5ml eye droppers.

In addition to Pataday Once Daily Relief Extra Strength, Pataday also offers alternative formulations tailored to different duration needs. These are:

  • Pataday Once a Day 16-hr Relief
  • Pataday Once a Day 8-hr Relief

Pataday controls allergic reactions by limiting the release of chemicals that cause inflammation following exposure to allergens, such as pollen, ragweed, grass, and animal hair and dander.

Pros

  • Works fast and provides 24-hour relief.
  • Once-daily application.
  • #1 best seller in Amazon’s Allergy Relief Eye Drops category.
  • Easy to use.
  • Available without a prescription.

Cons

  • Comes at a higher cost compared to other allergy eye drops.
  • Comes in a small dropper bottle, and some users find it difficult to hold.
  • Some users have noted experiencing blurry vision following the application.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to non-drowsy allergy medications, Allegra stands out as the top choice, featuring the active ingredient fexofenadine. For budget-friendly alternatives, HealthCareAisle, Welmate, ValuMeds, and HealthA2Z provide options with the same ingredient.

Claritin and Alavert, both containing loratadine, offer a reliable alternative with lower drowsiness compared to cetirizine, a common antihistamine. The generic option, Goodsense, provides a cost-effective choice.

For those seeking alternative formats, nasal sprays and eye drops also offer effective relief from allergy symptoms, providing a range of options to suit individual preferences and needs.

Remember to consult your healthcare provider before starting any new medication to ensure it aligns with your specific health conditions and needs.

FAQs on Non-Drowsy Allergy Medications

Can I find top-rated non-drowsy allergy medications over the counter?

Yes. Many highly-rated non-drowsy allergy medications are available over the counter, such as Allegra, providing convenient access to effective relief.

Can I take non-drowsy allergy medications every day?

Yes, non-drowsy allergy medications generally ensure safe daily use, and many aim for long-term management of allergies.

Are generic versions of non-drowsy allergy medications as effective as brand-name ones?

Yes. Generic drugs undergo a thorough review process and stringent regulation by the FDA to ensure they are safe and effective. The FDA checks for the same benefits as brand-name medications, evaluates the safety of different ingredients, examines container durability, assesses shelf life, and monitors consistent manufacturing. The FDA only grants approval if the drug meets all safety requirements.

Is it safe to take non-drowsy allergy medications during pregnancy?

Pregnant individuals should consult with their healthcare provider before using any medication, including non-drowsy allergy medications.

Are there lifestyle changes that can complement the effectiveness of non-drowsy allergy medications?

Maintaining a clean living space, avoiding allergens when possible, and staying hydrated can complement the effectiveness of non-drowsy allergy medications in managing symptoms.

Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
Allergy treatment - Online visit
Get virtual care from a licensed clinician—no appointment needed
Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
  • $29 one-time assessment
  • No video call or appointment necessary
  • Personalized treatment plan prescribed for your condition