Allergies can cause a great deal of miseries. Excess mucus in your nostrils can lead to chains of sinus infections, cause sleep apnea, and is generally unpleasant.

I did the research and invested the time so you don’t have to. In my searches, I found recommendations ranging from significant environment changes and diet changes to ineffective, short-term solutions such as decongestant pills, sprays, and the netti pot. While these are all great, and can be used to some effect, the idea is to treat the disease as effectively and quickly as possible. The decongestents and netti-pot are solve the problem in the short term, but must be used with caution, as they can cause horrible congestion once you stop using them.

If you’re suckin back boogers constantly, or don’t really know what “smelling” is, or are fried on antihistamines 24/7, this is for you. I present, my one-two over-the-counter knockout.

1. Antihistamine Pills For a while, taking antihistamines meant being fried. “First-generation” anti-histamines like Benedryl not only caused drowsiness, they also caused “confusion.” For people looking to take anti-histamines to treat sleep apnea, this meant choosing between being sleepy from exhaustion, or sleepy from Benedryl. Not a happy choice.

Luckily, the newer generation drugs are much less likely to cause fatigue, and I’ve narrowed the search down to a pill that hasn’t caused me sleepiness in the 6 months I’ve been testing it.

The list of new generation drugs:

Cetirizine Hydrochloride - Zyrtec : Supposedly does not cause drowsiness, made me drowsy.  Desloratadine - CLARINEX. : Caused me to have an increased heart rate. Very uncomfortable.  Fexofenadine Hydrochloride - ALLEGRA : The holy grail. Treated my allergies, caused no drowsiness. Comes in a 12hr and 24hr format, I take it once every 24 hours, right before bed. 

I recommend Allegra because it’s what worked for me in terms of side effects, but everyone’s body is different, so give them all a try. Fexofenadine Hydrochloride is supposedly only used in Allegra, which is over the counter in Asia, but I found other brands with the same active ingredient. Granted, I live in Taiwan, so it may be best just to go with Allegra if you’re in the West somewhere. 

2. Corticosteroid Sprays Corticosteroid sprays work by reducing the size of the blood vessels in your sinuses, reducing swelling and thus limiting booger blockage. The two over-the-counter heavy hitters are:

Beclometasone - Beconase, Nasobec, Pollenase, Vivabec: I haven’t been able to find this in Asia, so I can’t report on its usefulness.

Fluticasone - Flonase reportedly is the only brand, but I bought “flixonase” in Taiwan which has fluticasone in an aquenous suspension propionate. It is effective, so this is the one I use. I take one spray in each nostril every 12 hours. 

The One-Two Knockout: One dose of Fexofenadine Hydrochloride (Allegra) at midnight, one spray each nostril of Fluticasone at 9am, one spray each nostril of Fluticasone at 9pm. I have found this to completely cured my allergies. I haven’t had a single sinus infection in the 6 months of following this routine, and I’ve also cured my sleep apnea.