My eyes are going to pop out of my head.... thank you Spring!
April 19, 2011 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Hello fellow Metafilterians, now that allergy season is upon us, does anyone recommend the best OTC med for: pressure on the eyes, chest congestion, stuffy nose, and sore throat? It's much worse in the morning. Coughing up yellow awfulness (sorry, gross). Claritin and Mucinex-D do NOT work. Sudafed works like a charm but knocks me out, literally for 2 days. Not sure what's out there, haven't had allergies in a couple of years.
posted by luciddream928 to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can get Allegra over the counter now - maybe try that?
posted by garnetgirl at 7:53 PM on April 19, 2011

Can you elaborate on your reaction to Sudafed? Pseudoephedrine should be amping you up, if anything, not knocking you out for two (!) days.
posted by speedgraphic at 7:55 PM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: I recently went to the allergist. Doc said Benadryl really is the best, but will knock you out. Claritin is the best for not causing drowsiness, but is the least effective for allergies. So he said zyrtec is the best OTC available that's in between. But know that you have to take it continuously for a couple of weeks before it's truly effective.

Also Nasonex is awesome for reducing the stuffy nose.

He also gave me the whole avoidance song and dance (new bedding, don't sleep with windows open, dust/vaccum often, etc.). It also helps to know what you are allergic to, but for most, it's all the common stuff.
posted by getmetoSF at 7:57 PM on April 19, 2011

I take Zyrtec at night about an hour before I go to bed, so I don't experience the drowsy effects in the daytime. Good stuff.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:06 PM on April 19, 2011

have you tried using a neti pot? it helps a lot to clear my sinuses out and relieve pressure & congestion immediately.
posted by lia at 8:06 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

If you're coughing up yellow stuff you probably have an infection and need a doctor's attention. Sometimes OTC meds can only do so much if you need antibiotics.
posted by corey flood at 8:06 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

I like Zyrtec (well the CVS-brand Zyrtec clone). I take one in the morning and have never felt drowsy from it. It doesn't 100% beat my allergies on the worst days but it helps a lot.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:13 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'll fourth the Zyrtec recommendation, and offer as an alternative to the neti pot (which I find unwieldy) Simply Saline nasal sprays, which irrigate/hydrate sinuses in the same way. In addition to relieving pressure and congestion, this will help minimize post-nasal drip, which is likely the cause of your sore throat.
posted by myownlostrib at 8:16 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Chest congestion and sore throat don't sound like allergies to me either. I dealt with a sinus infection for months recently before going to the doctor. It was such a relief to have it fixed.
posted by fritley at 8:19 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Saline flush (e.g., Neti Pot, or some similar delivery device) twice a day, plus washing my face after work and before going to bed (to clear off any pollen that's stuck there). Plus a Claritan on bad days. But yellow? That sounds like a different problem.
posted by dws at 8:23 PM on April 19, 2011

I'm just coming through a crazy allergy episode that morphed into a sickness. Ugh. My neti pot and I have become best friends. I never would have survived without it, and I highly recommend it for you!

(I also take Zyrtec, but those meds have to build up in your system.)
posted by hansbrough at 8:28 PM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: Buffered hypertonic saline irrigation. Get a bulb syringe of a neilmed kit.

3/4 of a tsp of salt. Make sure you get pure sea salt. No caking agents.
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup water (ish), slightly warm

If it's too harsh, add more water.

It rules.

Same as the neti pot, but more saline. Works wonders for sinus headaches too.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:35 PM on April 19, 2011

nth-ing the build up advice. you can't just take one when you feel bad, you need to take them every day for a couple weeks. claritn worked great for me for years, until one day it just didn't anymore. my pharmacist suggested i change to zyrtec.

my allergies are apparently more robust than OTC can take care of though, so i also take flonase. there are some OTC nose sprays you can try for the days where just a pill doesn't knock it out.

for what it's worth - my allergies congest my chest, give me a sore throat, and have me coughing (or puking) up yellow (and sometimes green) junk. i have shitty sinuses and drainage does a number on me.
posted by nadawi at 8:46 PM on April 19, 2011

I saw an allergist today for the first time. He said that Allegra is the new hotness in the OTC antihistamine market. Looking forward to trying it.
posted by Perplexity at 8:51 PM on April 19, 2011

After years of taking prescription nasal sprays (flonase), OTC an prescription allergy meds, and so on, I decided to rough it this year and do without. It's been one of the worst allergy seasons in a long time locally but .. you know what? It seems to basically blow over after a bit. Watery, itchy eyes for a few days but ... it's almost like by not fighting it things just got better.. Either that or major diet changes last year made some kind of difference. Don't think so, but who knows?

The description of the yellow cloudy mucous and chest congestion makes it sound like you have an actual infection. Allergy meds wont help there and many decongestants have a bounce back effect that will make you more miserable. Go walk around which helps clear the sinuses.
posted by rr at 8:58 PM on April 19, 2011

I've done OK with Zyrtec.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:09 PM on April 19, 2011

Are you taking Sudafed or Sudafed-PE? Because real Sudafed (the type you get from behind the pharmacist's counter and have to show ID for) is awesome for all of these symptoms. The other one doesn't work and makes me kind of sleepy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:10 PM on April 19, 2011

Last allergy season I gave up on tablets and tried different things for each symptom. Eye-drops for the eye itchiness, a nasal spray for the running/stuffy nose, throat lozenges for the sore throat (which yes, I get too - basically because mucus is running down there for days on end). I also splashed cold water over my face a couple of times a day when my skin felt itchy.

I found these products relieved the symptoms much faster than the tablets ever did, but they didn't last as long so you had to use them multiple times a day. I won't recommend brand names, since I'm in Australia and I'm sure they are all different, but make sure your eye-drops and nasal spray actually have anti-histamine in them, if you go this route. Plain saline ones will help a little initially but won't really stop the itching.
posted by lollusc at 9:32 PM on April 19, 2011

Response by poster: PhoBWanKenobi-, I was taking the kind you get from the pharmacist, not the "new" kind.
Speedgraphic, I always have had that reaction to pseudoephedrine. Knocks me out for 12+ hours of sleeping straight through, then waking up (barely) and feeling irritable the next day because I literally can't think straight. It really screws with me. I take it when I'm desperate and nothing else works. Oddly, I have the same reaction to painkillers, which I never take.

Thank you everyone for your comments! Good idea re: the neti pot, I will order one tomorrow.
Question - is colored mucus part of allergies? I've heard in various places that that is only a symptom of a cold. Sounds like some of you get the same symptom. I've had this for over a week and a half, so I'm assuming it's allergies.
posted by luciddream928 at 9:38 PM on April 19, 2011

I have exactly the same reaction to sudafed - have you tried Claritin D? Good luck, I know how much allergies suck.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:56 PM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: It's possible that some kind of infectious agent used your allergies as an opportunity to set up shop and then use your post-nasal drip as a log flume down to sore throat land. A neti pot or saline squirt bottle can help flush all of that nastyness out of there. I'm a fan of the little squirt bottles of sterile saline you can buy at the drug store. They cost anywhere from $1 to $12 for the fancy aerosol ones. I usually get the big generic ones for around $3, or the little individual kid sized ampules. They're great because they are already sterile, and you don't have to worry about cleaning them.
posted by ladypants at 10:58 PM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: Question - is colored mucus part of allergies? I've heard in various places that that is only a symptom of a cold. Sounds like some of you get the same symptom. I've had this for over a week and a half, so I'm assuming it's allergies.

My mom and I both have pollen allergies that are happy to morph into sinus infections. Past a certain point, only antibiotics help us.

In terms of prevention, my mom swears by eating a teaspoon of local honey every day; the reasoning is that if your body recognizes the local pollen, it won't mount such a fierce offensive (allergies) to get rid of what it sees as an intruder. I have no idea if this is true, btw.
posted by corey flood at 11:05 PM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: I'll go in the opposite direction from an earlier poster. As a long time OTC drug user with bad allergies, the flonase nasal spritz Rx has been wonderful.

Generic Claritin and Allegra are enough for me for light to moderately bad days, supplementing Flonase for the really bad ones.
posted by zippy at 12:35 AM on April 20, 2011

OP, a little mucus in your tissue when you blow your nose is one thing. Actually coughing up mucus means 1) you have a higher volume than you usually do (since as you say it's been a week and a half you've been doing this) and 2) you're almost certainly having post nasal drip out of your sinuses and down your throat while you're sleeping, and 3) this is almost always diagnosed by a doc as a sinus infection. Antibiotics would very likely help with the mucus (especially if mucinex hasn't dried it up).

For the rest of the allergy symptoms, the med that works best depends on your body chemistry. Zyrtec works the best for me personally, and I have to take it daily for several months during spring and fall. But even while on it, I still sometimes get an itchy throat, sneezing, and occasionally a sore throat. If it's really bad I'll take benadryl at night on top of the zyrtec (ok'ed by my doc). It's just the sucky part of having seasonal allergies.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:27 AM on April 20, 2011

I'm a long-time allergy sufferer and I only started to feel better when I started to tackle each problem area separately - eyes, nose and chest (if you're having seasonal asthma), plus a general antihistamine. (There's never been a single tablet that did it all for me.) I would also recommend sticking your head under a cold shower as many times as you can through the day - a lot of that pollen, dust, whatever, is in your hair and even your eyebrows (and on your clothes).
posted by Holly at 4:34 AM on April 20, 2011

Best answer: As a kid with terrible allergies, the rule was always yellow mucus anywhere= infection, and time for the doctor. Your mucus overproduction has made your entire respiratory tract a lovely home for bacteria- it's probably time to go to a doctor.
posted by MadamM at 4:34 AM on April 20, 2011

Another Zyrtec user here. Works much better for me than prescription Claritin ever did. I get the Costco/Kirkland version (Allertec) - it's pretty cheap, less than $20 for a year's supply. I do take it right before bedtime because of the drowsiness. Also, neti pot.
posted by candyland at 5:44 AM on April 20, 2011

Zyrtec here, as well. Although I also recommend the nasal sprays such as Nasonex / Nasacort. There's another one that I think starts with an 'F' but it's at home and can't remember the name.
posted by rich at 6:20 AM on April 20, 2011

Best answer: "Different monkeys, different drugs" is how I've always thought of it. Nobody really knows why some medications work well for some folks but not others. The only thing you can do is try out what's currently available.

After suffering for years with horrible seasonal symptoms barely controlled by OTC meds (Zyrtec did close to nothing for me), I tried the steroid nasal spray flonase two years ago and it worked wonders. Seriously, *wonders.* Effectively zero symptoms in the nose. You'll notice that it's worked for some folks in this thread and not others but I can honestly swear by it, and strongly suggest you at least try one of the steroid nasal sprays to see if you're one of the folks it'll help.

Different monkeys, different drugs.
posted by mediareport at 6:31 AM on April 20, 2011

Zyrtec gives me horrible nightmares, but is brilliant for my allergy symptoms. I look forward to trying Allegra, if it's the new hotness.

My doctor says that the 12-hour extended release Sudafed is better at giving a gradual dose to prevent the amping up or the konking out.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:20 AM on April 20, 2011

Yellow stuff from your sinuses for more than a week might be a virus, might be a bacterial infection. Either way, see a doctor.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:21 AM on April 20, 2011

Allegra just came off prescription-only recently. It might do the trick.

The honey thing does help, but you really have to stick with it for a prolonged period, like several months or more. You also have to source your honey from very close by. If the bees aren't making it out of the same pollen samples that you're breathing, it won't help.

The new nose sprays (Nasonex/Nasacort/Omnaris/etc.) are good specifically for the sinus-swelling issues, but you have to take them for at least a week straight, if not more, to get the benefit. If you miss a day, the effect drops off, and you have to build it up again. Also, if you use a neti pot, make sure you use it first, and your nose is dry and clear of all the saline before you use the steroid sprays. It would be silly to wash the spray out right after you use it, but a lot of people don't think about it when they're doing it.
posted by Citrus at 7:26 AM on April 20, 2011

Best answer: I have exactly the same reaction to sudafed - have you tried Claritin D?

To be clear to the OP, Claritin-D is basically Sudafed. With a little added loratadine, an antihistamine. But it is primarily pseudoephedrine. I'd definitely still try it; if anything works for you it will probably be this, but I'd be surprised if it didn't have the same negative side effects as Sudafed since it is virtually the same thing. It would be weird if adding an antihistamine (which makes you drowsy) would make something which already makes you drowsy make you less drowsy. If you see what I mean.
posted by Justinian at 2:10 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you miss a day, the effect drops off, and you have to build it up again.

For what it's worth, that's not been my experience with Flonase at all.
posted by mediareport at 7:48 PM on April 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the very helpful answers and input! I am trying Allegra for an antihistamine, and l also needed a nasal spray - Nasonex works great for under the eye swelling, but I'm still sniffling constantly. No sinus congestion though, which is awesome - Nasonex worked wonders. Also the Neti pot is awesome, it cleared up nasal passages immediately, but only temporarily. I'll continue to use it though, thanks to the user who posted the saline/baking soda solution. Worked wonders immediately.
posted by luciddream928 at 6:48 PM on April 23, 2011

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