Allergy treatment, know your options

There are many different allergy medications to treat many different allergies. This can certainly be a predicament when you have to decide which option is best to treat your allergies. 1

Allergy medications come in different forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids, nasal sprays, topical creams and even eyedrops. Some are only available by prescription/scripts, others you are able to buy over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. 1

The way allergy medications work is by blocking the chemicals that are released in your body when you come into contact with an allergen for example pollen, dust mites, certain foods, some medications or insect bites. 2 By blocking these chemicals it helps to control your allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, hives, swelling and other symptoms of allergies. 1

The benefit of 2nd generation antihistamines

Older type of antihistamines (called 1st generation antihistamines) are mostly sedating and may even impair learning and reduce work efficiency. 3,4

The lack of safety of 1st generation antihistamines lead to the development of 2nd generation antihistamines. 5 The 2nd generation antihistamines are less sedating with fewer side effects e.g. increased heartrate, dry skin, constipation, difficulty to urinate and confusion. 1,2,6

Some examples of 1st generation antihistamines 7

  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Hydroxyzine

Some examples of 2nd generation antihistamines 7

  • Rupatadine
  • Cetirizine
  • Desloratadine

Allergies do not care if it is night or day and can strike at any time

Taking an antihistamine that causes drowsiness can be dangerous especially if you need to be alert like while driving. Taking a non-sedating anti-histamine like rupatadine might be a better choice, knowing that even if you are caught off guard you may be more likely to be alert (care should be taken before driving or using machinery until your individual reactions to the medication has been established). 1,8,9

Educate yourself

Read the package insert that accompanies the medication, before you take an allergy medication. Antihistamines may interact with other medications you are taking.

It is always wise to consult with your doctor or pharmacist to help you choose the one that is best for you. 1

DISCLAIMER: This editorial has been commissioned and brought to you by iNova Pharmaceuticals. Content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

Name and business address of the holder of the certificate of registration: iNova Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Ltd,. Co. Reg. No. 1952/001640/07, 15e Riley Road, Bedfordview. Tel. No. 011 087 0000. For further information, speak to your healthcare professional. Further information is available on request from iNova Pharmaceuticals. IN4774/22


  1. Mayo Clinic. Allergy medications: Know your options. [online] 5 March 2022 [Cited] November 2022. Available from URL:
  2. Mayo Clinic. Allergies. Overview. [online]  [Cited] November 2022. Available from URL:
  3. Church MK, Maurer M, Simons FER, et al. Risk of first-generation H1-antihistamines: a GA2LEN position paper. Allergy 2010; DOI:10.1111/j.
  4. Church MK and Church DS. Pharmacology of Antihistamines. Indian J Dermatol 2013;58(3):219-224.
  5. Slater JW, Zechnich AD and Haxby DG. Second-generation antihistamines: a comparative review. Drugs 1999;57(1):31-47.
  6. Coggins M. Aging Well. Today’s Geriatric Medicine Volume 6 Nr 2 Pg 6.[online] [Cited] November 2022. Available from URL:
  7. Del Cuvillo A, Mullow J, Bartra J, et al. comparative pharmacology of H1 J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2006;16(1):3-12.
  8. Rupanase approved package insert. 2 October 2014.
  9. Do I Need Antihistamines for Allergies? [online] 24 January 2022 [cited] November 2022; Available from URL: