At long last, I have finally got Allegra in my hands for testing. I have waited and waited for this moment for months, in the hopes that maybe this antihistamine will offer a bit more relief than the others for cholinergic urticaria (heat hives).
Quick backstory–first, just let me briefly say that I have tried many antihistamines at this point. Here is the summary thus far:
- Zyrtec (Cetirizine)–Zyrtec by itself does give me some relief, but I can still have full-blown hives attacks. For example, this past summer I was absolutely covered in painfully itchy hives after taking Zyrtec when I mowed my yard. It does remove some of the light reactions, but it does nothing for the big ones. Side effects for me include severe stomach cramps (the next day), and moderate drowsiness/mental fog.
- Benadryl–Benadryl is so powerful that it puts me to sleep. So I usually can’t tell if it helps my hives or not, but if you are having trouble sleeping, Benadryl will likely solve that problem. It isn’t practical to take this regularly for hives. Side effects for me include slight stomach upset, and extreme drowsiness.
- Hydroxyzine–Hydroxyzine provided a small amount of relief, but again, I would still have hives attacks. So it helps some, but not enough to justify using it on a regular basis. Side effects for me was extreme drowsiness.
- Claritin (Loratadine)– Claritin does almost nothing for me really, even when I take 20 mg (instead of the 10mg). It probably doesn’t even help more than 1-2% really. I even have minor attacks of hives with this one. Side effects include only very light drowsiness/mental fog.
- Periactin–This one only barely provided relief. Slightly more relief than Claritin, but far less than even Zyrtec. As far side effects–whoa, stay away from this one. After being extremely on-edge and snappy to my wife for a day or two (highly unusual behavior for me), we finally realized it was the antihistamine. This stuff just made me mad at the whole world, and my every thought was aggressive/mean. I wouldn’t take this stuff again if I had to.
- Pepcid–This antihistamine is an H2 type, which is different from the others above. This actually provides more relief for me than Claritin. It still doesn’t provide as much relief as Zyrtec, but I have less side effects. Side effects for me include mild drowsiness.
- Zantac–Zantac is also an H2 antihistamine blocker. If I take 2 (the maximum labeled dose for 1 day), then I do get some minor relief, almost equal to Zyrtec. Side effects for me include only very light drowsiness/mental fog. This is the one I usually use right now when I need every bit of help I can get. But again, I still have full blown attacks on this.
So I have definitely tried many different kinds, however, I have not yet tried Allegra (Fexofenadine). Allegra has mixed results for people on the cholinergic urticaria forum, with some getting substantial relief, while others got almost no relief at all. So, I have been very eager to try this. Since it is the first time it has ever gone over the counter, I now get my chance to try it (inexpensively). It costs around $5 for a 5 pack, but I am sure the more you buy, the better the price is.
I actually just bought this Allegra today, and I have not yet tried it. I am going to update this page when I have, but I am debating on waiting until tomorrow to try it because today it is very cool and rainy, and I won’t really have a hives attack. But tomorrow I will probably be outside chopping wood. So stay tuned and I will update this post with full details.
Allegra Vs Zyrtec- A Comparison
Both antihistamines have this on the front of the package: Relief of Sneezing, runny nose, itchy/watery eyes, itchy nose or throat. Both are labeled for indoor and outdoor allergies. Both provide relief for up to 24 hours. Both are fairly comparable in price.
Also, both should be avoided if: You are pregnant/nursing, you are on other medications which could interact with it, you haven’t talked to a doctor/pharmacist first, if you have kidney disease, you should not take with alcohol/fruit juice. Also, if you are of young age, or want to give this to a young child, I would recommend you talk to your doctor. Also, you should stop taking either of these if you develop a non-typical rash, or have any other strange symptoms.
Zyrtec comes in 10 mg amounts, while Allegra comes in 180 mg. Allegra is supposed to be non drowsy, and advertises it on the package, while Zyrtec is known to cause mild to moderate drowsiness for a large majority of people who take it.
Side effects for Zyrtec may include: Drowsiness; dry mouth; stomach pain (in children); tiredness; trouble sleeping (in children). Side effects for Allegra may include: nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, drowsiness or tired feeling, headache, muscle pain.
So both have pretty much the standard possible side effects that most antihistamines label as potentially having. It is important to note that you may get all, or no side effects whatsoever. Some antihistamines may give you 1 side effect, while others may give you none. Also, these really react differently for people, so what works for one person may not work for you, and vice versa.
Picture of Allegra (Fexofenadine) and Zyrtec (Cetirizine):
Here is a side by side comparison of Allegra vs Zyrtec. You will notice that the Allegra pills are about 3 times the size of a Zyrtec pill, and I put a penny in the picture so you can have an idea of scale:
Allegra (Fexofenadine) Review
Okay, sorry for the delay, but I can now post an official review. I took 1 (180mg) pill of Allegra yesterday for the first time. I took it at around 7:45 am. It took about 45 minutes to an hour or so to start kicking in. At that point, I could tell I wasn’t as reactive. About 2 hours later, I feel it was fully in my body.
- I took a really hot shower. I didn’t get prickly at all. Usually a hot shower makes my back get itchy within only a few minutes. Allegra fought it off nicely though.
- Went to the grocery store with my wife. No hives whatsoever, even when checking out.
- Went outside to burn wood. Nothing. It was kinda cold and breezy, so it wasn’t really putting my hives to the test, but it did well.
- Ate “mild” salsa and chips. Nothing. Normally this causes a prickly scalp.
- Ate a few more chips around 6:00 pm. At this point I could tell the Allegra wasn’t as strong. I got a slight prick feeling on my scalp a couple of times, but it quickly passed.
- During my sleep, I did get a little itchy. I forgot to change into my shorts (I was wearing pajama pants), and the heat from that and my covers (and a really bad dream I had), caused me to get slightly itchy. It passed quickly.
My Side Effects:
- No stomach upsets (VERY HAPPY about this one). Zyrtec really does a number on me.
- Almost no drowsiness, but very slight mental fog. Out of a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being complete fog), I would say I had around a 2. Zyrtec is about a 7, and benadryl is about a 9.5.
- No other side effects to mention. Felt great all day, could barely even notice I took it.
- This is by far the most effective antihistamine by itself. It gave me no side effects, and pretty much stopped all minor attacks which was great.
- I feel that if it were hot outside, or if I had attempted to exercise, the hives would have probably came through. However, they probably would have been less intense.
- It was most effective within the first 6-10 hours after taking it. I could tell it was wearing off after that (it says 24 hour relief).
- I suspect if I took it daily it would eventually be less effective (I only plan to take it 1 time per week if possible, sometimes every 2 weeks).
- I suspect if I combined an H2 antihistamine with this, or took a slightly higher dose of Allegra, it would be even more effective. I may experiment with this in the future, but only when it doesn’t help by itself, and only on an “as needed” basis. Always talk to a doctor before attempting this.
I am REALLY excited about this. I love this antihistamine already, and I am really glad it is over the counter now. I plan to take this in a few weeks and try to get the sweat out with my sauna suit (and on a very hot day). But until the weather gets hotter/more humid, I am not going to attempt this yet.
If you have never tried it, I recommend you give it a shot (again, talk to a doctor first). It was way better than Zyrtec for me. Zyrtec may work best for some though, because our bodies are all different and I have learned that people really respond differently to medications. So I would encourage everyone to experiment until you find what works best for you.
Allegra has won over a new customer. I paid like $5 for 5 pills. If you buy more, you get a better deal. Check the Amazon store, as they may have better prices for bulk purchases.
I hope that helps. I will post more on this as I experiment, but that is probably all for this week. Good luck if you try this, and I hope it helps.