Best Allergy Medicine: Top 5 OTC Antihistamines To Bring You Relief

Seasonal allergies can be a real pain. From itchy eyes to a runny nose, the symptoms can make it difficult to enjoy the great outdoors. Fortunately, there are a variety of allergy medications available to help alleviate these symptoms. When choosing the best allergy medication for seasonal allergies, it’s important to consider the specific symptoms you’re experiencing. That’s why we did the research for you! 

According to one study, only one in four adults feel truly prepared for seasonal weather changes. More than two in five (44%) suffer from seasonal allergies and 76 percent would rate those allergies as “severe.” It turns out that seasonal allergies are giving respondents more trouble than just nasal drip (40%), sinus pain (36%), and headaches (35%.) One in two people reported finding it difficult to walk their dog. Forty-nine percent say their allergies impact outdoor activities, like hiking or boating, and 58 percent think sinus and allergy issues often impact their job performance. Whether it’s medications or something else, respondents will try an average of five different remedies before giving up and toughing out their allergies. While 40 percent keep medications to combat their allergies on hand year-round, 44 percent begin adding to their stockpile several weeks before allergy season begins. Another 30 percent start months in advance. Almost five in 10 (48%) report spending $100 or more on over-the-counter allergy and sinus medication each year. 

It is no surprise that a recent study shows most people believe having allergies are worse than filing taxes! The survey of 2,000 U.S. adults with allergies discovered that people consider allergy symptoms to be the most frustrating part of springtime (54%), compared to spring cleaning (44%), mosquitoes (41%), and even filing taxes (38%). Moreover, nearly a third (31%) of people would take a pay cut for a year to be allergy-free! Among the favorite things people would be willing to part with for a year to be rid of their allergy symptoms are cake (39%), chocolate (39%), video games (39%), coffee (38%) and social media (36%). Allergy symptoms keep people from participating in outdoor exercise (39%), lawn mowing or yard work (39%), swimming (38%) and playing outdoor sports (37%). People have even had to cancel plans completely because allergies got in the way, such as get-togethers with friends (37%), birthday parties (36%), road trips (36%) and weddings (33%) and even job interviews (33%). 

Needless to say, seasonal allergies can be a nuisance, but they can be treated with the right medication. The best allergy medicine can combat those allergies quickly, safely, and without any side effects. To find the top five most effective products on the market today, StudyFinds consulted several ‘expert’ sources, taking into consideration the reviews of each medication by allergists and consumers. Is there another OTC allergy brand we should consider? Let us know in the comments!

Woman Sitting on Sofa and Blowing her Nose into a Tissue
Woman sneezing (Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels)

The List: Best Allergy Medicine, According to Experts


1. Zyrtec

Per the experts, Zyrtec is the best choice when it comes to fighting seasonal allergies. This antihistamine is highly effective at relieving symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. It’s also fast-acting, so you can feel relief within just a few minutes of taking it. It is also available in a variety of forms, including tablets, liquid gels, and chewables for you and your kids!

Zyrtec Cetrizine HCl/Antihistamine - 10mg/100 Tablets
Zyrtec Allergy Tablets

Forbes writes, “Zyrtec is the only OTC medication recommended by both our allergist panelists. ​​’I really like Zyrtec the best,’ says Dr. Passer, who touts the medication as one of the more affordable antihistamines available. ‘I also think Zyrtec is best for itchy skin,’ she adds. Dr. Westreich also recommends cetirizine, the active ingredient in Zyrtec. ‘This is my go-to choice for an oral antihistamine,’ he says, adding the caveat that while it’s less sedating than other antihistamines, sedation is still possible. ‘This is also the antihistamine that is recommended if one is needed during pregnancy,’ he adds. Additionally, Dr. Passer recommends Children’s Zyrtec Dissolve tabs for little ones, as they are suitable for kids over the age of 6.”

Explaining the mechanism by which Zyrtec works, Active Beat says, “Zyrtec 24-Hour Allergy Relief is a popular OTC medication for allergy symptoms. It contains cetirizine, which is an antihistamine that works by blocking the release of histamine in the body. Histamine is a chemical that is released by the immune system in response to allergens and is responsible for causing the symptoms of allergies, such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. Zyrtec can provide relief for up to 24-hours, making it a convenient choice for those with busy schedules.” 

Noting that this medication may cause grogginess, Women’s Health adds, “Zyrtec, a.k.a. cetirizine hydrochloride, consistently offers up relief in the form of a tiny, easy-to-swallow pill. The tablets work fast and keep on delivering all day. Just note: It’s important to take it every day in order for the medication to be as effective as possible.”

Active listed Zyrtec as the “best overall OTC allergy medicine.” Why? “This child-friendly allergy syrup is safe for kids two years and older and helps relieve all common allergy symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and itching. With cetirizine as the active ingredient, the pediatrician-recommended non-drowsy formula is safe for daytime use. This allergy medicine also comes in dye-free and sugar-free varieties,” explains Active

They go on to say that although the prescription-strength isn’t suitable for children, “Zyrtec prescription-strength allergy medicine provides powerful, all-day relief from allergy symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and itchy. With cetirizine HCl as the active ingredient, this everyday allergy medicine works quickly and lasts a long time. Zyrtec tablets work for indoor and outdoor allergies and can be used for daytime relief. Use for outdoor allergies like pollen or indoor allergies like dust and pets.”

2. Allegra

When it comes to the best allergy medication, Allegra is a top contender. It’s a non-drowsy antihistamine that provides relief from a range of allergy symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and throat. Like Zyrtec, it is fast-acting, with relief kicking in within an hour of taking it. It’s also long-lasting, providing up to 24 hours of symptom relief. 

Allegra allergy medicine
Allegra allergy medicine

Allergist Dr. Westreich recommends this product. “This is my antihistamine of choice if there is any concern about sedation,” he said, in a recent article of Forbes. “It is considered one of the least sedating antihistamines, with some studies showing no sedative effect at all. It also has a long duration of action.” 

“In some individuals, one antihistamine formulation may bind a bit better [to block an allergen] than others, so people will have better relief,” says Dr. Jennifer Monroy, MD, a Washington University board-certified allergist and immunologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO in a statement to The Healthy. Describing the brand Allegra, The Healthy adds, “Another very effective antihistamine, fexofenadine can be a great option for people who find Zyrtec or Xyzal makes them feel sleepy. It’s considered one of the least-sedating antihistamines—and it also starts working within an hour (though Dr. Monroy says patients often start feeling better in about 30 minutes).”

Listed as the best overall allergy medication, Very Well Health writes, “The Allegra Adult 24-Hour Allergy Relief easily tops our list thanks to the medicine’s quick-acting formula to tackle your allergy symptoms any time of the day. When it comes to treating allergies, there’s one ingredient that is head and shoulders above the rest: antihistamines. If your eyes are starting to itch or your nose is running, the antihistamine in the Allegra Adult 24-Hour Allergy Relief can help make you feel better in as little as one hour. Beyond the pill’s record-breaking relief, it includes fexofenadine, a special non-drowsy antihistamine ingredient that won’t affect your energy levels. All in all, it’s great to know that this medicine can provide 24 hours of relief, for both indoor and outdoor allergies, without getting in the way of your day.”

LiveStrong says, “The antihistamine in Allegra acts for 24 hours and takes about an hour to kick in. It helps provide relief from sneezing, runny nose, itchy throat and watery and itchy eyes.” Dr. Anjeli Kalra, allergist at UCHealth and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Allergy & Clinical Immunology at University of Colorado Hospital adds, “All selective histamine blockers (like Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra) are non-drowsy. So, if you want a non-drowsy option you can take during the day, you can look for any non-sedating oral antihistamine.”

Allegra is available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and liquid, making it easy to find the right dosage for you. It’s also safe for use in children over six years old, making it a great option for families. Overall, if you’re looking for an effective, non-drowsy allergy medication, Allegra is definitely worth considering.

3. Claritin

Claritin, another great antihistamine, has been on the market for over 25 years and has proven to be effective in relieving allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. Like Allegra and Zyrtec, Claritin is also non-drowsy. Additionally, Claritin comes in a variety of forms, including tablets, liquid gels, and dissolvable tablets, and has remained a reliable allergy medication for years!

Claritin 24 Hour Allergy Medicine, Non-Drowsy Prescription Strength Allergy Relief, Loratadine Antihistamine Tablets, 100 Count
Claritin 24 Hour Allergy Tablets on Amazon

Women’s Health writes, “Unfortunately, kids aren’t spared from allergies. Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network, says an OTC medication like Claritin for Kids works great. It’s not a bad idea to check in with your child’s pediatrician first, though, just to make sure it won’t interact with any other medications they may be taking.”

Listed as the best allergy medication for “general-use outdoor and pet” allergies, gopuff says, “Claritin is a big name in the world of allergy medicine. One of the reasons it’s so popular is because its active ingredient, loratadine, is a second-generation antihistamine. These allergy pills are less likely to cause drowsiness than older drugs like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) still relieve frustrating allergy symptoms like runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes. It works well for natural allergens like pollen or dust. Plus, this drug provides 24-hour allergy relief.”

When it comes to pet allergens, Claritin is one of the best medications! According to LiveStrong, “Pet allergies are a type of indoor allergy, which can be tricky to manage, because it can be difficult to completely avoid them. Unlike seasonal allergies, indoor allergens can be bothersome year-round. Claritin relies on loratadine as its active ingredient, which is the same drug class as Zyrtec and is considered the original selective histamine blocker.” Allergist, Dr. Anjeli Kalra says, “There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet because dogs and cats produce allergen in their dander and saliva,” so if you have a combination of indoor pets and pet allergies, Claritin may be a great choice for you!

4. Flonase

If you prefer a nasal spray to help combat those allergies, Flonase should definitely be on your radar. This nasal spray contains fluticasone propionate, a corticosteroid that helps to relieve inflammation and other allergy symptoms. One of the best things about Flonase is that it can be used to treat a wide range of allergy symptoms, including nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. Plus, it’s safe for both adults and children over the age of four.

Flonase Allergy Relief Nasal Spray, 24 Hour Non Drowsy Allergy Medicine, Metered Nasal Spray - 72 Sprays
Flonase Allergy Relief Nasal Spray

The Healthy writes, “Flonase is a very effective nasal steroid—and it’s approved to treat eye allergy symptoms, too.” Dr. Monroy adds, “It can have a floral scent and contains a little bit of alcohol. Sometimes people don’t like the scent or say it can burn a little bit. If you find the fluticasone propionate too irritating (or don’t like the scent), its cousin, fluticasone fluorate is a gentler formulation that comes as a mist as opposed to a liquid.”

According to Active Beat, “This medication can provide relief for up to 24-hours, and is a convenient option for those who prefer a non-oral form of medication. Flonase is suitable for individuals aged 12-years old and up. It can also be suitable for children ages 4 to 12 but it must be administered by an adult, and only 1 spray in each nostril should be administered per day.”

Women’s Health adds, “Flonase is a steroid nasal spray that helps keep your body from overreacting to allergens like pollen. Just use one or two sprays in each nostril daily. Dr. Evan Li, an assistant professor of medicine, immunology, allergy, and rheumatology at the Baylor College of Medicine, recommends combining it with Allegra for maximum benefit.”

Flonase is considered the “best overall” allergy medication, according to LiveStrong. “In general, Dr. Kalra says first-line therapy for allergic rhinitis — the general term for symptoms caused by environmental and seasonal allergies — is an intranasal (in-the-nose) corticosteroid, such as Flonase, Nasacort or Rhinocort. Flonase is made with the most-prescribed active ingredient, so it’s a go-to remedy for relieving a lot of common allergy symptoms, including runny and itchy nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and nasal congestion. It’s a 24-hour, non-drowsy medicine and effective for seasonal, year-round and indoor and outdoor allergies. You can use Flonase once or twice a day by spraying it in each nostril,” says LiveStrong.

5. Xyzal

The best medicine for you depends on your allergies and associated symptoms. If none of the above work for you, you should definitely consider Xyzal. This powerful antihistamine is one of the most effective options on the market for treating allergy symptoms. Xyzal works in the same way by blocking the histamine receptors in your body, which helps to alleviate symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and runny nose. Xyzal is not known to cause drowsiness, so you can take it during the day without worrying about feeling tired or unfocused. It’s also fast-acting, so you can expect to feel relief from your symptoms within just a few hours of taking it. 

Xyzal Allergy Pills, 24-Hour Allergy Relief, 10-Count, Original Prescription Strength
Xyzal Allergy Pills

Like Claritin, it is great for combating pet allergies! “No matter how much you love your furry friends, life isn’t going to be easy if you’re allergic to them,” says Very Well Health. “You can give yourself some relief by taking the Xyzal Allergy Relief Tablets that were made to alleviate symptoms associated with animal dander allergies. Unless you’re willing to get rid of your pet, many say this is the only thing that works.”

According to Active, Xyzal is the best “liquid medicine” for kids and the “best OTC allergy medicine for runny nose.” “Prescription-strength Xyzal allergy medicine is made with the antihistamine levocetirizine dihydrochloride. It works quickly and only requires one dosage per 24 hours. Xyzal provides daytime and nighttime relief with an effective and powerful formula. Expect to feel its effects within one hour of taking a tablet,” writes Active.

Commenting on the Xyzal Children’s 24 Hour Allergy Liquid in tutti frutti flavor, Active adds, “This oral allergy liquid is designed specifically for children. One dosage works within an hour and provides 24 hours of relief for children over the age of two years. Not surprisingly, Xyzal Children’s Oral Solution features a kid-friendly flavor and formula. Taken before bed, it will bring your child a restful night’s sleep without interruption from allergy symptoms.”

Women’s Health writes, “Xyzal, a.k.a. levocetirizine, ‘is the best prescription-strength oral antihistamine,’ Dr. Li says. It starts working within an hour to give you fast relief from allergy symptoms.”

You might also be interested in:


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.


  1. Zyrtec side effects: Depression, rage, anxiety, crying, mood swings, loss of appetite, exhaustion, no motivation, dizziness, brain fog. Do you really want these side effects?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *