Seasonal allergies are the worst. At first, you’re overjoyed to see all the greenery popping up after a long winter. Then the next thing you know, your eyes are red, your nose is runny, and—worst of all—you’re sneezing 24/7. So, you grab your go-to antihistamine to help relieve those symptoms. But what is the best time to take allergy meds for maximum effectiveness?
Most people don’t pop that pill until they’re already dragging through their morning. That’s why experts say you should actually be taking your antihistamines before you go to bed at night.
“Antihistamines take at least 30 minutes to work, and the newer, long-acting ones will last you 24 hours, so you’ll be covered until the next day. They work best when they’re already in your system, so the night before is most efficacious,” says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist/immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network. “Since some antihistamines make you drowsy, it’s actually best to take them before bedtime.”
Bonus: Taking them ahead of time means you’ll rise just in time for them to reach the prime allergy-fighting zone. “Once-daily antihistamines reach their peak efficacy 8 to 12 hours after you take them, so using them at dinnertime or before bed means better control of your daytime symptoms,” says Yoon Mi Kim, DO, an allergy and immunology specialist for Geisinger.
As long as you’re consistent and try to take your meds prior to exposure, Dr. Parikh says any time will work. But for anyone who dreams of waking up without the sniffles, you can’t beat swallowing the pill before you get ready for some shut-eye.
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