Hay fever can wreak havoc on your summer fun. Find out which hay fever medications are the cheapest on the market.
Getting cheap hay fever tablets and allergy medication is going to be at the top of your list if you’re a hay fever sufferer. Hay fever season is something many dread, as it brings about some pretty unwanted symptoms similar to that of a cold, including a blocked and runny nose, scratchy throat and whole lot more.
As a student, we know you’re looking to cut costs where you can, and that should include your hay fever medication too. It’s sadly going to be a part of your yearly spending if it’s something you suffer with, but we believe getting the right allergy medication doesn’t have to break the bank.
Read on to find out more about the different types of antihistamines on the market, the best brands of antihistamines to buy from and much more.
- Generic or branded hay fever medication?
- Cheap hay fever tablets
- Piriton vs Piriteze
- Side effects of antihistamines
- How to reduce hay fever symptoms
- How much antihistamine can I take in 24 hours?
- Taking antihistamines with alcohol
- When does hay fever season start?
- When does hay fever season end?
- Why is my hay fever so bad this year?
- Can you take antihistamines every day?
Generic or branded hay fever medication?
You’ve probably seen branded and non-branded packs of hay fever medication stacked next to each other. Have you ever wondered which is better or why people prefer to stick to the branded stuff?
Both branded and non-branded hay fever tablets can be effective in treating hay fever symptoms, but the active ingredients in the tablets vary.
Branded hay fever tablets often contain specific active ingredients that are patented and can only be manufactured by the company that holds this patent. On the other hand, non-branded hay fever tablets, also known as generic drugs, contain the same active ingredients as the branded version but are made by different companies.
Cheap hay fever tablets, generally, are non-branded. This means people tend to opt for these when trying to save cash.
Both types of tablets have to meet the same safety and efficacy standards set by regulatory agencies. However, the exact composition of the non-branded hay fever tablet might differ.
If you’re unsure what’s right for you, speak with your GP or local pharmacist to see which type of hay fever medication is right for you. Depending on your symptoms, medical history and other factors, they may make specific recommendations tailored to your needs.
Cheap hay fever tablets
If you’re wondering if students pay for prescriptions, including allergy medication, the answer is — it depends on your age.
But if you’re in a hurry and need to grab something over the counter, or are curious about trying an antihistamine recommended to you by a healthcare professional, then these are the most well-known cheap hay fever medications on the block.
Cetirizine hydrochloride and cetirizine dihydrochloride
Found in: Benadryl One-a-Day Relief, Piriteze, Zirtek, Zyrtec, Allacan
You may find some cheap hay fever tablets list cetirizine hydrochloride, while others will list it as cetirizine dihydrochloride. Some sources say there’s no difference between the two, while others say there are.
Plus, when it comes to cheap hay fever tablets with branded names, these are usually up there.
Cetirizine dihydrochloride vs cetirizine hydrochloride
One known difference between cetirizine hydrochloride and cetirizine dihydrochloride, is that cetirizine hydrochloride, a second-generation antihistamine, is useful in relieving symptoms of hay fever and other upper respiratory allergies. whereas cetirizine dihydrochloride, a third-generation antihistamine, is used to relieve allergy symptoms that are associated solely with hay fever.
Found in: Benadryl tablets
Benadryl One-a-Day Relief is one of the go-to brands you can find in almost all supermarkets and drugstores. The active ingredient, acrivastine, is the only one present in the branded type and doesn’t come in a cheaper alternative. So if you’re after this particular ingredient, you’ll only find it in the form and package of Benadryl.
However, if this is what you’re looking for, then you’re on to a winner.
Found in: Piriton products
Chlorphenamine is available on prescription, and to buy from pharmacies with branded names such as Piriton. It comes as tablets or liquid that you take orally. You may see chlorphenamine is sometimes mixed with other medicines like ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or pholcodine to treat coughs and colds.
Plus, chlorphenamine is a first-generation antihistamine, meaning it can cause a drowsy effect in those who take it.
Although found in Piriton, which is slightly more costly than Piriteze, they’re still cheap hay fever tablets worth buying, especially if you find that chlorphenamine maleate works better for your symptoms.
Found in: Clarityn.
You may have seen loratadine in many non-branded products, but more commonly in the brand name Clarityn. It’s one of the only major brands that use loratadine as its active ingredient.
Found in: Allevia
Fexofenadine was more commonly used on prescription but has recently hit supermarket shelves under the brand name Allevia. Considered one of the strongest hay fever tablets over the counter, it’s an antihistamine for those who suffer from hay fever but is also used to alleviate other allergic reactions caused by pets, dust, bites and stings.
We wouldn’t class these high on the cheap hay fever tablets list, but their accessibility and effectiveness are a real game changer for those who have particularly bad allergies.
Piriton vs Piriteze
You’ve probably seen the brand names Piriton and Piriteze around, but you’re unsure what the difference is between the two, or which one you should get. Fortunately, we’ve got this covered!
Let’s answer your burning question. What’s the difference between Piriton and Piriteze? Piriton and Piriteze are both antihistamines used to treat symptoms of hay fever and other allergies that cause histamine to be released by the body.
Piriton is a brand name for the active ingredient chlorphenamine, which is a first-generation antihistamine. Piriton is used to relieve symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itching of the nose and throat. It can also be used to treat allergic skin conditions such as hives. It is available in tablets, syrups or injection form. According to the NHS, it can cause a drowsy effect, but takes 30 minutes to an hour to kick in.
Piriteze is a brand name for the active ingredient cetirizine, which is a second-generation antihistamine. It is used to relieve similar symptoms to that of Piriton, including sneezing, runny nose, and itching of the nose and throat, and hives too. It is available as tablets or syrups.
Both Piriton and Piriteze can cause drowsiness as a side effect, but it is less common with Piriteze because it is a second-generation antihistamine.
It’s worth knowing that second-generation antihistamines were manufactured to cause less sleepiness than first-generation antihistamines — also interact with fewer medications
Again, absolutely chat with a healthcare professional to see which type of antihistamine is best (and safe) for you.
Side effects of antihistamines
Absolutely every type of medication has some form of side effect, though, some more than others.
Fortunately, antihistamines are pretty safe and have very little side effects. While each type of antihistamine will have its own set of side effects that legally have to be known in case of an emergency, these are the most common ones you may come across:
- Drowsiness and fatigue (particularly from first-generation antihistamines).
- It’s important not to drive or operate heavy machinery while taking these types of antihistamines
- Dry mouth
- Nausea or an upset stomach
- Difficulty urinating
Side effects of non-drowsy antihistamines
Non-drowsy antihistamines are a type of antihistamines that are less likely to cause drowsiness compared to first-generation antihistamines. These include second and third-generation antihistamines. Some common non-drowsy antihistamines include:
- Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- Loratadine (Claritin)
- Fexofenadine (Allegra)
- Desloratadine (Clarinex)
Despite being less likely to cause drowsiness, non-drowsy antihistamines can still cause side effects in some people. These side effects are pretty much the same as those taking first-generation anthistamines, but may also include:
- A sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting.
How to reduce hay fever symptoms
So you’ve got some of our recommended cheap hay fever tablets. But do you want to reduce your pressing symptoms further? Here are some over-the-counter and natural remedies to try.
Try prescription hay fever pills
If you find that over-the-counter cheap hay fever tablets just aren’t cutting it, you may need to take a trip to the doctors and get yourself a prescription-based antihistamine. Just be advised that you will need to tell your doctor what you’ve been taking already, as they’ll need to take this into account, along with any pre-existing medical conditions.
Be advised that prescriptions are now £9.35 (correct as of 24th January 2023), so while this may be steep compared to the over-the-counter stuff, it might be worth the relief you’ll get. If you need an NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC), this costs:
- £30.25 for 3 months
- £108.10 for 12 months
You’ll also need to check your eligibility for the scheme.
However, if you’re in Northern Island, Scotland or Wales, you could get a prescription for free!
Use hay fever relief wipes, eye drops and nasal spray
If you need that extra bit of support, then hay fever wipes, eye drops and nasal sprays can give you that much needed relief. Wipes work by trapping pollen to prevent it from reaching your eyes. These wipes also help to trap dust and other allergens too.
Nasal sprays often contain medicines in them, known as corticosteroids, that help prevent hay fever symptoms altogether or drastically reduce them in time. They’re great for long-term use too, but always check in with your doctor just to be sure.
If hay fever symptoms really affect your eyes, then eye drops are a go-to for tackling symptoms right at the source. They work by reducing inflammation and calming down itchiness.
Avoid itchy eyes by wearing an eye mask
Wearing a sleeping mask, or simply tying a t-shirt loosely over your eyes while sleeping, can drastically reduce the likelihood of itchy eyes overnight. This is because it stops pollen, or another allergens, from reaching your eyes.
Be sure not to use a tee that’s been hanging out to dry all day, though! You don’t want to add more pollen where it’s not needed.
Shower before bed
One of the biggest carriers of pollen is, sadly, you! Showering everyday is not only good for your own hygiene, but it can wash off any excess pollen that may still be on your hair or skin. We recommend taking that shower every night before bed for a restful sleep, especially if you’ve been outdoors all day.
Vacuum your room to get rid of pollen
Pollen and dust are quite similar — they rest on the surface of things like cars, bikes and other objects in the outdoors.
Unfortunately, it can make its way into your room too. Especially if you’ve had your window open all day.
If you’re able to, we’d also recommend giving your bedding a once over with a hoover too. As ultimately, that’s where you sleep every night and are likely to have the most pollen resting on. Alternatively, make regular bedding changes with fresh sheets, especially if your symptoms are worse than normal.
How much antihistamine can I take in 24 hours?
Most packet instructions for antihistamines recommend taking one tablet every 24 hours. If symptoms carry on over a period of time, then you need to consult a healthcare professional to rule out anything else that may be causing hay fever symptoms or other allergic reactions.
Doctors can also advise on antihistamine dosage depending on the specific medication you take, your age, and other factors such as your weight and any other medical conditions you may have. It’s important that instructions, whether directly from the packet or from your doctor are followed to a T.
It’s usually recommended not to exceed the maximum daily dose of the antihistamine, which can be found on the package insert or by consulting with a healthcare professional. For example, for cetirizine (brand name Zyrtec), the recommended daily dose for adults and children 12 years and over is 10 mg per day. For example, loratadine (brand name Clarityn), the recommended daily dose for adults and children 6 years and over is 10 mg per day.
What happens if I take more than the recommended dose of antihistamine?
Taking more than the recommended dose of an antihistamine can increase the risk of side effects, and in some cases, can be seriously dangerous. If you have any concerns about the dosage of your hay fever tablets, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider.
The specific effects of an overdose on antihistamines will depend on the type of antihistamine and the amount taken. Here are the most common symptoms of an overdose on antihistamines:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Dry mouth and throat
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
If you think you or someone else has taken an overdose of antihistamines, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Call 999 and be prepared to provide information about the specific antihistamine taken, the dosage and when it was taken.
Taking antihistamines with alcohol
Mixing antihistamines with alcohol, or any medication at all, isn’t recommended for a variety of reasons.
But in the case of antihistamines, mixing them with alcohol can cause more intense feelings of drowsiness. This can affect your ability to think and/or react, drive, use heavy machinery and can even increase your risk of falling over.
Additionally, drinking alcohol while taking antihistamines can increase the risk of certain side effects when taking antihistamines alone, such as stomach bleeding and even liver damage.
So really, it’s best to avoid alcohol when you’re taking antihistamines.
When does hay fever season start?
Hay fever season in the UK typically starts in late March or early April and lasts throughout the warmer months. However, the exact timing can vary depending on things like the weather and specific types of pollen surrounding the area you live in.
Plus, some people may experience symptoms outside of the typical hay fever season if they are sensitive to other allergens such as mold or dust mites.
When does hay fever season end?
Hay fever season in the UK usually ends around September time. But things like the pollen type in surrounding areas, personal allergies, pollution and even global warming, can affect the start and end of hay fever season.
Why is my hay fever so bad this year?
There are a few possible reasons why your hay fever symptoms might be worse this year.
- Weather conditions: The weather can have a big impact on hay fever symptoms. A mild winter followed by a warm spring can lead to an early start to the pollen season, and a hot summer can cause pollen levels to remain high for longer than usual
- In fact, it’s been proven that global warming is making hay fever season last longer than it ever has in the past. Even more reasons to fight for a sustainable future!
- Air pollution: Air pollution can exacerbate hay fever symptoms, as it can make the pollen more potent
- Personal factors: If you have other health conditions such as asthma or eczema, these can make your hay fever symptoms worse. Also, if you are under a lot of stress or not getting enough sleep, this can also make your symptoms worse
- Personal exposure: If you live in an area with high pollen counts or you spend a lot of time outside, you may be exposed to more pollen than usual, which can make your symptoms worse.
It’s also important to note that hay fever symptoms can vary from year to year, and some years may be worse than others, even if the environmental conditions are similar.
Can you take antihistamines every day?
The short answer is yes. Antihistamines, even cheap hay fever tablets, are generally considered safe to take daily, provided you have daily symptoms of their allergies, you follow packet instructions or those given by your doctor. It’s worth keeping a note of any side effects, and stopping the medication entirely if you’re feeling worse.
Need more information? As always, speak to a healthcare professional to get the right level of care for your hay fever allergies. Sign up for Student Beans to see if you can save on allergy medication from brand we work with, such as Boots student discounts, Superdrug student offers and much more.