My hometown, also the city in which I currently live, has made another top 10 “worst” list. As if the pollen painting my car yellow, the massive piles of tree pollen in the driveway, and the raging sinus headache were not strong enough evidence, WebMD confirmed it. We’re in the top ten worst cities for spring allergies. Is it any wonder that I’ve had seasonal allergies since I was five or six? I probably would have started sooner, but I didn’t go outside much until we moved into a house.

Up until my teen years I greeted most mornings with a spate of sneezing. It was my way of showering my affection upon the day and its insistence that I get up at such an ungodly hour to catch the school bus. In high school my allergies were so bad that I had pockets full of tissues at all times and people often thought I had a perpetual cold. This could explain my lack of injuries, despite my clumsiness. The tissues shielded the impacts!

Then the magic of chemistry gave us Claritin. I never took Benadryl because it knocked me out. Seriously, good luck with attempting to wake me for the next eight hours. I will occasionally take it now, but I must keep moving and counter the drowsiness with copious amounts of caffeine. Even with enough caffeine on board to keep an entire dorm awake for an all-nighter, I can still pass out if I sit or lay down.

Medicinal fact: Benadryl isn't really a good antihistamine. It just knocks you out so you don't care if you are itchy or sneezing.

I used the little white miracle pill for about ten years and then just as it went OTC, I noticed it stopped working well. Coincidence? Maybe. So, I switched to Allegra, which also went OTC shortly thereafter. It doesn’t have quite the kick it had when it was prescription, but it works better for me than its competitors. Sadly, my reprieve from allergies during the honeymoon years with Claritin was short-lived. I now dope up with eye drops, nose spray, a steroid inhaler, and a systemic antihistamine. When I make the mistake of coming into contact with some mysterious substance which triggers allergic contact dermatitis I must slather myself in hydro-cortisone and topical Benadryl. I could attempt to avoid the allergens, but this would involve placing me in a human sized hamster ball.




As entertaining as that might be, I choose to embrace the allergens and fund the pharmaceutical companies. After all, hopefully one will employ me one day. I might as well, do my best to keep them in business.



5 responses to “Gesundheit!

  1. Have you tried Zyrtec? I’ve been using that for a couple of years now and haven’t had any trouble since.

    • southerndreamer

      Yes, I’ve taken Zyrtec as well, and can’t really say that there was any noticeable difference, as neither make me sleepy. Supposedly Zyrtec has a higher incidence of drowsiness. It also boasts 1x/day dosing, similar to Claritin. However, with 24hr extended release formulations available, it makes that a moot point. The active ingredient in Allegra is more potent, with a higher affinity for the H1 (histamine-1) receptors, which means you get more bang for your buck so-to-speak. I took Claritin off an on from the age of about 12ish (but only rarely as it was prescription only and not covered by our ins.) until roughly three years ago. That’s roughly twenty yrs, give or take. For the last couple of those I was taking a double dose, as a doctor had assured me it was safe to do so. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the drug’s metabolism, I experienced what is known as drug tolerance. Basically, I metabolized faster than it could do its job. Also, the body has a way of circumventing artificial “off switches” as one could term a drug antagonist. I’d bet good money that my cells simply started expressing more histamine receptors to counter balance the ones blockaded by the drug. Zyrtec falls in a similar potency range as Claritin, but does work for me, and is metabolized differently than Claritin. Likewise for Allegra and their generic counterparts. As I mentioned about the body circumventing the off switch, at this point no amount of antihistamines totally control my allergies now. It’s why I now have to take a steroid inhaler for my asthma. I have what is termed reactive asthma. It is allergy, and illness induced for the most part. As long as the allergies are well in hand the asthma doesn’t bother me. So, the inhaled and nasal steroids depress inflammation and over-active immune responses in the airways. Eye drops act locally. (I used Visine regularly since I was about eight maybe, and like the Claritin, reached a point where they did nothing. 4 years ago I had 1 OTC alternative that didn’t belong to the same drug class. I literally whooped for joy a few months back when I saw more antihistamine drops had gone OTC. I can deal with a stuffy nose or sneezing, but insanely itchy eyes are a lot harder to ignore. Nature turned up the volume of my immune system to “PANIC” and I can’t figure out how to turn it down. 😦 The good news I hear is that it *should* calm down somewhat by the time I hit 60 or so. Only another 30 yrs to go! Yay?

  2. Uh, wow. You wrote me a book. Yeah, Zyrtec did make me drowsy when I first started taking it, but after a couple of weeks the drowsiness went away. Eh, I guess different medications affect people differently. Claritin just made me drowsy and didn’t relieve my symptoms. I’ve never tried Allegra.

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