Allergy treatments without pseudoephedrine?

When travelling in countries with high smog levels -eg Vietnam, Japan - I quickly develop allergy symptoms - nose and eyes running like twin taps. The problem is my body can’t handle pseudoephedrine. As with too much caffeine, my heart races, I feel jumpy and my sleep is destroyed.
The last pharmacist I asked Googled and said, ‘You could try …’ That was not reassuring. Does anyone else share the problem and if so, do you have a workable solution - apart from telling me to avoid Asia?

My partner has serious hayfever allergies. Telfast or Claratyne help, sometimes one or the other more so. She gets generics that are about half the price of the name brands and have worked as well as the ‘originals’. Zyrtec helps many, also.

Whether they will help smog induced allergy I have no idea.


The pharmacist is not being shifty or incompetent as people and their allergies respond differently to different drugs. They ought to be able to give a better answer than most readers here, you are not the first person who is not able to take pseudoephidrine.

To some extent you will have to try a few things to see if they work. One non-pseudoephidrine to try is loratadine. It is sold under various brand names with higher or lower prices, ask your pharmacist.

If drugs don’t help you can buy face masks that filter fine particles. “P2” masks can be multi-use or single use. To be effective you need to ensure any such mask is worn correctly and fits well.


Sorry if my wording suggested that the pharmacist was being shifty or incompetent -He knew no more than I do. maybe had never been asked the question? I’m old and extra careful - It’s not so long since side effects of a drug made me extremely ill.
I will be taking a good supply of P2 masks - I wear them here. Vietnam and public transport in Singapore still require masks. I will look for loratadine - See how that goes. My granddaughter, who’ll be travelling with me this time, is allergic to dust mites. Snotting and sneezing could be a duet thing, unless we take antidotes.


Claratyne is the brand name loratadine is the active ingredient and generic to ask for. Similarly Telfast is fexofenedine and Zyrtec is cetirizine. If your fav chemist does not stock generics try another, and if none of your locals do search the generic name on ebay and ‘propharmacy’, a pharmacy in South Australia I have dealt with for years that offers many generics, good prices and impeccable service.


You could have a chat with a drug information pharmacist at the Medicines Line 1300 633 424 for reliable information (a free telephone service).

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That service’s web page states

This telephone service is not for emergencies, medical advice or second opinions.


Information provided by Medicines Line includes:

  • how a medicine works
  • how to take medicines
  • side effects
  • interactions with other medicines
  • medicines during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • medicines for children
  • storage of medicines
  • how to obtain consumer medicine information (CMI) for your prescription medicines
    referrals to reliable services and support organisations, e.g. support organisations for people with your health condition
  • promotion of the quality use of medicines and provision of information that is independent, evidence-based, appropriate and safe
  • encouraging responsible use of medicines by increasing public awareness about medicines.

If there is waiting time on the phone it may not be time well spent.

Yet When you call 1300 MEDICINE from Queensland or Victoria, you will be connected directly with an NPS MedicineWise Pharmacist but it is not clear what scope of advice they offer.

Sometimes web sites do not do justice and sometimes they create unrealistic expectations. @granjalu, can you add from experience?

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I do not expect this service would provide individualised medical advice but would give factual information about some of the drugs mentioned, including potential side effects. This information would hopefully allow Yvonne to make a more informed choice. I have found this service to be helpful in the past.


Hi Yvonne1,

Good luck with the Loratidine, which I also used for some time (and found quite helpful) for preventing allergic/irritated nose and eyes.

I have since found that I respond even better still to Desloratidine, which is a related antihistamine that I tried when my allergy specialist recommended I give it a go - she said that some people do respond significantly better to it. The desloratidine brand I buy is Desonex (used to be called Aerius) - there may be others.

I hope you find a good solution that works for you. I have tried most of the newer non-pseudoephedrine, non-drowsy antihistamines that have been mentioned in this thread and all of them have been at least somewhat helpful for me.


Hi, pseudoephedrine is not an antihistamine. It is a stimulant in the same way as ephedrine or adrenaline but much weaker. It does help dry up nasal secretions but if your runny nose is related to an allergy (unlikely but possible if it is smog, ) but many other things in the air such as pollens that can cause allergy symptoms then an antihistamine as was suggested by others may help. Those available without a prescription are not stimulating but can rarely cause drowsiness.

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Yes, it’s a horrid stimulant - on me it works like too much caffeine. My tolerance for the later is also low.
I’ll take you words into account. Thank you.

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Thank you. I will check with my GP and maybe get some.
I realised today - as I passed through a cloud of cigarette smoke - that because cigarette smoking is rife in Vietnam, it’s most likely that combination of passive smoke and vehicle exhaust fumes that gets to me. I live in a rural-coastal town so am not exposed to either. Cheers, Yvonne


I use zyrtec, which wrks for me. Usually only half a tab but drowsiness is the thing. I can only take it if I don’t have to go anywhere because it knocks me out. Still, its nice to wake with one’s sinuses clear. Claratyne and Telfast have never worked for me. Phenergan sometimes does


An older option is 25mg diphenhydramine HCL, a first generation antihistamine. This is sold in Australia mostly as a 50mg sleep aid. It is available in many countries as an OTC product. The sleep aid is listed by the TGA as an S3 (pharmacy) med.

Buying 25mg (or 50mg) generic tablets on Amazon AU or ebay (even for Australian stock) is but a fraction of the branded prices in chemists.


I cannot use Benadryl or most other cough medicines because I am allergic to their ingredients, one of which is pseudoephedrine.
I take Claratyne daily and cannot cope with smoke in any form. You have my sympathies.

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It’s a no, no for me if it mentions sleep. I won’t bore with details - But one over the counter ‘relaxant’ taken early into a night OS flight had dire consequences. I’ll give that one a miss.

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Only those affected and with those underlying allergies can understand. I cannot handle any opiates either. It took a years for them to work that out. :slight_smile:

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You seem to be having quite significant hayfever. In my experience as a GP, you need to escalate the treatment from oral antihistamines (like the ones the others mentioned-all equally effective by the way, with different responses among different people), to intranasal antihistamine (Azep nasal spray - available over the shelf).

But really the next step would be to get a script from your doctor that contains a combination of antihistamine PLUS corticosteroid - in a nasal spray (there are 2 brands in Australia: Dymista and Ryaltris) - they are more expensive (around $50 each) but well worth it if nothing else worked!

To stop the runny nose quickly - you can use Atrovent nasal spray (equivalent to the decongestant effect of pseudoephedrine, which you are unfortunately sensitive to)

Hope this helps.

Disclaimer: this is not medical advice, take it as a general advice from a random guy on the internet!

While having my Typhoid shot next week I’ll discuss this med with the GP. Sounds good. The allergic reactions to the pollutions are a surety. Vietnam, a smallish country, has a 98 million population - that’s a lot of people, a lot of cigarette smoke, a lot of motor bike and car exhausts in the main cities (I live in a smallish coastal town of 4000 people - clean air). If I am prepared all will be well. Masking may help prevent the worst of it. So thank you for your advice. Cheers, Yvonne

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