Effective OTC Drug for Seasonal Allergy: Zyrtec-D, Less Drowsiness

Effective OTC Drug for Seasonal Allergy: Zyrtec-D, Less Drowsiness

Allergies of several types can occur in kids and teens. Environmental allergies (to dust mites, for example), seasonal allergies (such as hay fever), drug allergies (reactions to specific medications or drugs), food allergies (such as to nuts), and allergies to toxins (bee stings, for example) are the common conditions people usually refer to as allergies.


For some people, seasonal allergy symptoms may be made worse by consuming fresh fruits or vegetables due to "oral allergy syndrome" (OAS), according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).The most frequent symptoms of OAS include itchiness, swelling and hives affecting the mouth, face/lip and throat area. If not properly managed, these symptoms can take a heavy toll on an allergy sufferer's quality of life.

If you tend to get frequent "colds" that develop suddenly and occur at the same time every year, it is possible that you are actually suffering from seasonal allergies. Blockage of the eustachian tubes, cough, and a sensation of pressure in the sinuses result from edema and venous engorgement of the nasal mucosa. When a true allergy exists to a compound in the air, the nasal or respiratory tissues react because of the white blood cells or inflammation involved in allergy. This causes chemicals to be released that lead to the nasal congestion, drainage and sneezing which we typically relate to hay fever.

Allergic rhinitis occurs when inhaled allergens interact with IgE antibodies on cells in the airway. Estimates of the prevalence of allergic rhinitis in the United States range from 8.8% - 5 to 16%. A study of nearly 600 people with hay fever symptoms, including sneezing, watery eyes and runny and itchy noses, found that workers missed an hour of work per week during peak hay fever season.

The most common type of ocular allergy is seasonal and perennial (year round) allergic conjunctivitis. Hay fever and other allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic disease, with about 50 million sufferers each year in the United States, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.A good way to tell allergic rhinitis from the common cold is by how long the sniffles last. While a cold typically hangs around for a week to 10 days, allergic rhinitis can stretch on for weeks or even months.

It's best to explore conventional means of treating the allergy with medication first and then, if still unmanageable, allergy testing can provide a second tier of investigation. Antihistamine tablets relieve sneezing, itching and other allergic symptoms and can prevent nasal congestion before an allergy attack. Many brands are available by prescription and over-the-counter.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Zyrtec-D (cetirizine HCl) 5 mg and pseudoephedrine HCl 120 mg), an allergy drug, for nonprescription use in adults and children 12 years of age and older. This drug combines an antihistamine with a nasal decongestant. Pseudoephedrine, designed to treat nasal congestion, constricts vessels within the nasal mucosa, thus leading to a more patent airway and less nasal congestion. It does not have known anti-inflammatory effects.

Available as a prescription drug since 2001, Zyrtec-D is now approved as a nonprescription drug for the relief of symptoms due to hay fever or seasonal allergy, and allergy to other substances (such as dust mites, animal dander, and molds) and other upper respiratory allergies such as, runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery, tearing eyes, itching of the nose or throat, and nasal congestion. Zyrtec-D is also for reducing swelling of nasal passages, for relief of sinus congestion and pressure, and for restoring freer breathing through the nose. Cetirizine is also sometimes used to treat insect bites and certain skin rashes, smell and taste disorders, itching, hives, eczema like itchy rash also known as atopic dermatitis.

"The approval of this widely-used drug for nonprescription use will enable many people to have access to another effective treatment for their allergy symptoms," said Andrea Leonard-Segal, M.D., director, Division of Nonprescription Clinical Evaluation in the FDA"s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "This approval reflects FDA's commitment to bringing prescription drugs to the over-the-counter market when they can be safely used without a prescription.

Zyrtec-D"s common side effects include are drowsiness, fatigue, and dry mouth. Sales of the drug are subject to restrictions in the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act. This law places restrictions on the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine, such as limiting the amount that an individual can purchase, and imposing record keeping requirements on the retail establishments that sell the product. Zyrtec-D is distributed by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Fort Washington, Pa. It is usually taken once a day with or without food.

According to a result of a new Creighton University study; noninhaled, intranasal carbon dioxide (CO2) may offer a new, effective and safe treatment for many seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) sufferers. These findings indicate that noninhaled, intranasal carbon dioxide is very promising as a safe and effective treatment to provide rapid relief for seasonal allergic rhinitis. With the exception of a burning/stinging sensation when the carbon dioxide is first administered, there appears to be no significant side effects with this technique.

A study, conducted during the 2003 ragweed allergy season in Chicago, found that daily doses of 240 mg of pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (Sudafed® 24 Hour) were just as effective as 10 mg daily of montelukast sodium (Singulair®) at relieving symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing and itching, and at improving quality of life for those with hay fever -- without any additional side effects. In fact, pseudoephedrine had small advantages in specific categories. It was slightly more effective, for example, in reducing congestion, which it was specifically designed to do.

Dr. Mohsenifar M.D., director of the Division of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center ;recommends treating rhinitis, or nasal congestion, with long-acting antihistamines that are available by prescription and, increasingly, over the counter, including Allegra and Claritin.

The newer antihistamines, or second generation antihistamines referred to as non-sedating antihistamines -- such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra), or desloratadine (Clarinex) -- cause less drowsiness than older antihistamines, such as Benadryl. Even though zyrtec (cetirizine) is supposed to be a non sedative antihistamine, researchers reported that it did cause drowsiness to some patients.

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