I’m taking little white pills and my eyes are still itchy


And I write that headline with apologies to Dave Dudley. (You know, “I’m takin’ little white pills and my eyes are open wide…“)

How are y’all doing with the pollen? I’m not doing so great.

Of course, I take my usual double-adult dose of Zyrtec every night (my allergist decided years ago that 10 mg wasn’t enough for me), plus the Singulair that I take to keep asthma away but which I also find has an antihistaminic effect (I tried to quit taking it a couple of years back, and my nose was like Niagara Falls).

But at times like this, I have to get over-the-counter reinforcements, which in our house we just refer to as “little white pills.” Every drug store sells a house-brand version. They’re these generic tablets of chlorpheniramine maleate (antihistamine) and phenylephrine HCL (decongestant — and not the one you can make meth from). Essentially the same two drugs as in Alka-Seltzer Plus, minus the aspirin.

I find that they help admirably most of the time, but usually not until I’ve taken them every four hours for a day or so. After that, I can taper off some. Yesterday, I had been taking them at the prescribed intervals for quite a few days, and started having pretty bad symptoms again after only a couple of hours. And I’ve found in the past that sometimes if you push the envelope a tad — taking another dose after only three hours, just once or twice — you can get back on top of it. So, I tried that once or twice.

None of the tricks were working last night. Today, I’m feeling the effects of overwhelming hay fever and maybe a little too much of each of these drugs in my system, plus a largely sleepless night probably brought on by both of the first two factors. Then there’s the caffeine that I’ve tried to keep myself going with today. There’s nothing like feeling a little jittery from too much coffee while still having trouble keeping your eyes open and putting one thought in front of another…

I’m sure I’ll be better tomorrow, though. Right?

That’s me. How are y’all doing?

25 thoughts on “I’m taking little white pills and my eyes are still itchy

  1. Karen Pearson

    You have my sympathies. Between the Zyrtec and the Flonase, I’d be doing pretty well if I could just keep my eyes clear, which I can’t.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    You can buy 12 hour chlorpheniramine on Amazon.
    Singulair is like Flonase, I think. Not an antihistamine, a corticosteroid that prevents the inflammatory response.

    Zyrtec works slightly differently from other antihistamines, as does Benadryl, according to the experts at Consumer Reports. You might try Claritin instead of some of the Zyrtec and see if that does better. I found that Zyrtec helps me better than my usual year round Claritin.

    Also stay indoors and shower after you have been outside, and keep all windows closed, etc.

    1. scout

      Every now and then CVS also has the 12 hour chlorpheniramine, but I have started buying it from Amazon. It helps me. And doesn’t make me sleepy, which is apparently unusual, as it is an older one and it does make lots of people sleepy. But I’m needing reinforcements too. I just started trying nasocort. No appreciable difference yet. I also use sterile saline a few times a day to wash out the allergens.

  3. Silence

    As only women have commented on this thread, I’m going to assume that men:
    1) Are tougher
    2) Don’t have allergies (Brad excepted)
    2A) Don’t take medicine to control said allergies
    2B) Don’t talk about allergies

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, gee, Silence, I’d like to be one a them macho guys who sneers at the wimp who carries an inhaler, but God didn’t see fit to make me that way.

      I used to be that guy who carried an inhaler. I’m not now (usually — I might have a problem for a few days once a year or two) because of the miracle of Asmanex, a once-a-day inhaler that has pretty much done away with asthma. For which I have to pay $240 every three months to order from an offshore pharmacy. To get it in this country would cost me twice as much. But Asmanex is worth it.

      Some ex-military friend of mine once told me that someone he knew he thought he had asthma, until the drill instructor explained to him that there wasn’t going to be any asthma in HIS outfit, and drilled it out of him. I just shook my head and didn’t say anything, hearing that story.

      When you can’t breathe, you can’t breathe. It’s not your imagination. It’s not a weakness of character. Your bronchial tubes just contract, in response to irritants or temperature changes or, for some people, exercise.

      It’s a real thing. Like having a broken leg is a real thing. And no amount of wishing it away or shrugging it off or toughing it out makes it go away. You need the drugs.

      Other allergic symptoms are the same. When my eyes are red and itching and swollen and streaming, it’s real.

      1. Doug Ross

        Any improvement with your hearing or does the allergy season make it worse? and you may have covered this before but have you found any climate that help alleviate the symptoms?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          No on the first, yes on the second.

          Hawaii. My health was pretty much perfect in Hawaii, without drugs. You’ve got all those flowering plants, but the air is kept fresh and clean by the trade winds. You don’t even need air conditioning.

          Of course, I was also 17 years old, which for most of us is our healthiest time of life.

      2. Silence

        of course I was joking, I just thought it was funny that none of the male regulars had stepped up to comment on the allergy thread.

        1. Rose

          Careful, Brad! You never when the “girl” is packing heat. Or a taser. Or is an expert in Rex Kwan Do.
          I have to admit I want a lipstick taser like Lucy has in Despicable Me 2.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, I’ve been doing a lot better yesterday and today. I think the rain helped.

    I took a couple of little white pills during the night — one at bedtime, another in the wee hours — but nothing so far today, and nothing during the day yesterday.

    I wonder what allergen is no longer present in problematic amounts…

    1. Doug Ross

      You sure those pills weren’t testosterone to help you MAN UP! (Wondering what the female equivalent of MAN UP would be?)

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