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Alternative Allergy Medicines

Pediatric Allergy Basics


Updated March 11, 2009

Many kids take allergy medicines, such as Allegra, Clarinex, Claritin, Singulair, and Zyrtec, etc., and unfortunately, they sometimes continue to have allergy symptoms.

What do you do next?

Strict Avoidance of Allergy Triggers

Although it can be difficult if your child has multiple allergies or if she is allergic to things outside, like trees and pollen, avoidance of triggers can often be helpful. These triggers can include things in the house, such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold, or pollens and other things outside.

If you don't know what your child is allergic to, try to avoid the most common triggers, such as by putting allergy proof plastic covers on your child's mattresses and pillows to avoid dust mites, etc. Or if you don't know what your child's allergy triggers are, an allergy test might be a good way to help you find out.

Check Your Medication Dosage

If your child's allergy medicine isn't working, you might double check to make sure that she is on a good dose of medicine. For example, while the starting dose of Zyrtec for children between the ages of 12 to 23 months is 1/2 teaspoon once a day, that can be increased to 1/2 teaspoon every 12 hours if it isn't working. And children from age 2-5 years can take 1 teaspoon of Zyrtec once a day.

In addition to being started at a low dose, some children simply outgrow their dose of their allergy medicine as they get older and it needs to be adjusted.

Try a Different Allergy Medicine

There are now many different choices of allergy medicines, even for younger infants and toddlers, so if one allergy medicine isn't working, you might try another. If Zyrtec or Claritin isn't working, then maybe ask your Pediatrician about trying Clarinex or Singulair.

Nasal Sprays

Steroid nasal sprays, such as Flonase, Nasonex, Nasacort AQ, and Rhinocort Aqua, are often underused in Pediatrics. Although safe and effective, most kids simply don't like using them. They do work well though, so you might consider using one instead of, or in addition to, your child's oral allergy medicine if it isn't controlling your child's allergy symptoms.

Keep in mind that spraying the nasal spray towards the outside part of your child's nose, instead of straight up, can often make it more tolerable, since the medication is less likely to drip down the back of their throat this way.

Astelin, a nasal antihistamine spray, is another allergy medication that can be helpful for treating children with allergies.

Target Your Child's Allergy Symptoms

If your child's allergy symptoms are not under control with her current medications, make sure those allergy medications actually treat those symptoms. For example, antihistamines, such as Allegra, Clarinex, Claritin, and Zyrtec, don't treat congestion, a common allergy symptom.

For congestion, your child might take Singulair, a steroid nasal spray, or Astelin. A combination of an antihistamine plus a decongestant, such as Allegra-D, Clarinex-D, Claritin-D, or Zytrec-D 12 Hour, would can also help control a child's congestion.

You can also target other allergy symptoms, such as by using Patanol or Zaditor eye drops if your child has eye redness, itching, or tearing, from eye allergies.


Although combinations of antihistamines with decongestants are an option for older child, the fact that they are pills limits their usefulness in younger children. You can get a similar effect by simply giving your child a decongestant in addition to his regular allergy medicine, such as:
  • Ah-Chew D, available as a chewable tablet and as a suspension
  • Pediatex D
  • Sudafed, Sudafed PE
  • Triaminic AM Decongestant Formula

Alternative Allergy Medications

Even when you have tried all of the standard allergy medicines at the standard doses and in the traditional combinations, such as using both Clarinex and Nasonex each day, and they still aren't working, what do you do next?

Trying an allergy medication with an older generation antihistamine, although it might make your child drowsy, might be an option. These medications include:

  • Ah-Chew
  • Extendryl Syrup, Extendryl Chewable Tablets, Extendryl Jr
  • Rynatan Pediatric Suspension
  • Benadryl

Allergy Specialist

A referral to an allergy specialist can also be a good time when you and your Pediatrician are having a hard time getting your child's allergies under control. In addition to maybe providing extra education and tips about avoiding triggers, an allergist might be able to start allergy shots.

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