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What is the best over-the-counter antihistamine?

When it comes to the best over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines, I try hard to base my preferences not just on experience but on medical studies and pharmacodynamics as well. Cetirizine (Zyrtec) is a once-a-day medication for all doses with a half-life of about eight hours and treats symptoms for about 21 hours. It doesn’t have many side effects, but for some people, it is mildly sedating. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say it's a one, whereas diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is a six.

Fexofenadine (Allegra) is a once-a-day medication (for some doses) and lasts about 16-17 hours with studies showing benefits for a full day. For kids, there are liquid forms, but they require twice-a-day dosing, which is harder to remember. It doesn’t have many side effects. It tends to have a larger pill but it’s not a horse pill. It generally doesn’t cause drowsiness and is considered nonsedating.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.