Fexofenadine, loratadine, cetirizine, and diphenhydramine are the four most popular medications used to treat allergies. These medications are antihistamines, which help to block the action of histamine, a chemical released in the body which causes an allergic reaction.
Although these medications are all antihistamines, there are some differences between them. Fexofenadine (most commonly sold as “Allegra”) and loratadine (most commonly sold as “Claritin”) are both long-acting medications, meaning that they can last up to 24 hours. Cetirizine (most commonly sold as “Zyrtec”) is a short-acting medication, which means that it wears off after about 8 hours. Diphenhydramine (most commonly sold as “Benadryl”) is an especially short-acting medication, lasting only 4-6 hours.
Another difference between these medications is their side effects. Fexofenadine and loratadine generally have few side effects, while cetirizine and diphenhydramine can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, and fatigue. For those who want allergy relief and plan on doing work, they may gravitate more towards fexofenadine and loratadine. If those are side effects that you don’t mind too much, than any of the aforementioned medicines would work for you.
Finally, the cost of these medications can vary. Fexofenadine and loratadine are generally more expensive than cetirizine and diphenhydramine; However, the cost of the medications can vary depending on the pharmacy and insurance coverages. If you’re in need of an allergy medicine this spring, book a primary care office visit at any of our clinics to discuss with a provider about which of these medications may be best for you this allergy season!