Dec 012011

Allergy sufferers have more options available than ever before. Until fairly recently, those with nasal allergies had to choose between over-the-counter pills that caused drowsiness and expensive prescription brands. However, many allergy medicines that were once

Allergies can cause rhinitis, post nasal drip and chronic sinus problems, all of which can cause bad breath. 

available only by prescription are now available over the counter. A few of the brands you will find on the allergy aisle are these over the counter antihistamines:

  • Diphenhydramine (commonly sold as Benadryl). This antihistamine has been available since the 1940s. It is highly effective for most people but can cause marked drowsiness.
  • Chlorpheniramine Maleate (commonly sold as Chlor-trimeton). This is another older antihistamine. It is considered weaker than other first-generation antihistamines. It can still cause drowsiness in some individuals.
  • Loratadine (commonly sold as Claritin). This antihistamine was made available without a prescription in 2002. This antihistamine typically does not cause drowsiness because little of the drug penetrates the blood/brain barrier. It is most effective when taken daily.
  •  Fexofenadine (commonly sold as Allegra). This is the newest antihistamine to be offered over the counter. The FDA approved OTC sale in January 2011.
  • Cetirizine (commonly sold as Zyrtec). As of 2007, people in the US were able to buy this without a prescription. Like Loratadine and Fexofenadine, this drug is considered non-sedating because very little of it passes through the blood/brain barrier.

Many antihistamines are more effective when they are combined with a decongestant. Decongestants can also help make antihistamines more effective against cold symptoms as well. Many antihistamines are available in formulations that already contain decongestants.

These are often distinguished by adding a "D" to the name of the medications as in Claritin-D. Decongestants can also be purchase separately. A couple that are commonly available are:

  • Pseudo ephedrine (commonly sold as Sudafed).This decongestant has gotten harder to obtain as authorities combat its use in illegal methamphetamine production. It can usually be found behind the pharmacy counter but can be bought without a prescription.
  • Phenylephrine (also commonly sold as Sudafed). This decongestant has been marketed as a replacement for pseudo ephedrine. It does not have the same stimulating effects. This makes it safer for cardiac patients and also makes it useless for manufacturing methamphetamines.

For those who wish to avoid taking medications altogether, there are also non-medical options available. Among the most effective are:

  • Neti PotsThese resemble small teapots with long spouts. They can be made of plastic, ceramic, metal or glass. The neti pot is filled with a warm saline solution, which is poured into the nostrils. This flushes out the sinuses to remove mucus and irritants and sooth sinus tissue. The saline also helps relieve the inflammation that causes stuffy noses.
  • Steam Inhalation. Inhaling steam moisturizes the nasal cavity and helps relieve stuffiness. There are special devices made to produce steam for inhalation. Alternatively, you can try pouring boiling water into a bowl and then inhaling the steam or even jumping in a hot shower.

Jacob Maslow writes for Allergy Be Gone, an allergy control products web site.


Allergies, which commonly cause excess mucus production, are many times responsible for chronic nasal congestion, rhinitis and post nasal drip, conditions which can all cause bad breath. While most 1st generation antihistamines have mouth dryness and drowsiness as a side effect, 2nd generation ones (e.g. Cetirizine) have much less pronounced effects.

Dry mouth is a common cause of bad breath so it is important to always have this in mind when taking new medication; you don’t want to make an existing halitosis problem even worse! Learn how to treat bad breath caused by allergies and many other conditions or diseases with this 152-page step-by-step guide.

How to Treat Halitosis 

Other articles you may find helpful:

Post Nasal Drip Treatment: Review of Sinus Irrigation Systems

Sinus Bad Breath Caused by Chronic Sinusitis, Rhinitis and Post Nasal Drip

Bad Breath Solutions to Chronic Halitosis Problems

How to Eliminate Bad Breath in Easy to Follow Steps

The Importance of Flossing

  2 Responses to “Over-the-Counter Allergy Medicines”

  1. Thanks for the list. I was not sure if Fexofenadine was available over the counter… Will try a neti-pot as well as they are cheap compared to other devices.

  2. I have tried loratadine and cetirizine and I prefer the latter. Helps a lot with my allergy symptoms, mainly runny nose. This in turn helps me reduce the production of mucus, which in turn helps with my bad breath.

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