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Health & Relationships

Cheap hayfever tablets and allergy medication

Hayfever can turn even the best summer's day into a fight against nature's irritant: pollen. But don't let it hit your finances too – find out how to get medication on the cheap.

sneezing man hayfever pills

If you're a hayfever sufferer, you'll understand that the effect it can have on your bank balance is almost as painful as the four months of itchy eyes, blocked nose and scratchy throat.

Hayfever is often too annoying an ailment to ignore but, sadly, the medication can be pricey. Fortunately, there are some far cheaper ways of soothing your allergies... if you know where to look.

Read on to find out how to get the cheapest hayfever medication, as well as some cheap ways to deal with your allergies when tablets just aren't enough.

Are branded medicines better than generic medicines?

medication pills

When you're buying medication – be it for hayfever or anything else – there's always one thing to bear in mind: branded medicines are a bit of a rip-off.

Why? Well, despite the fact that your standard dose of medication will have a ton of different ingredients, there's usually only one that matters: the active ingredient. This is the one that actually does the work, and as long as it's in there, you're sorted.

In other words, if you take Piriteze, Zirtek, Clarityn or whichever medication works for you, there's almost certainly a generic alternative out there that does exactly the same thing, but for a fraction of the cost!

In fact, in some cases the generic version is the exact same product as the branded medicine, just in different packaging. Look out for the PL code (basically a unique number for each drug made by each company) on the packaging – if the unbranded and branded packages have the same PL code, they are literally the same medication!

As for safety, you needn't worry that the generic alternative isn't fit for consumption. Regardless of the manufacturer or retailer, all medicines in the UK are made to the same strict standards.

So, if you have a choice between two boxes of tablets – both the same quantity, both with the same active ingredient, but with drastically different price tags – there's usually no reason to go for the more expensive version.

If you have any food or drug allergies, always check the non-active ingredients too! The medication may include something that you're allergic to, and you shouldn't assume that branded and generic products have the exact same contents.

Cheap hayfever tablets

Now we've established that generic, unbranded medications are just as effective as the branded products, let's take a look at the cheapest medicines that contain the all-important active ingredients.

Although it's usually cheaper to buy online, we've listed the in-store prices just in case you need to grab some hayfever pills while you're out and about (or just hate online shopping).

NOTE: The prices listed exclude any special offers, so do have a quick double check to see if there any deals on before handing over your cash.

Acrivastine

cheap benadryl acrivastine hay fever tablets

Which hayfever medicines contain acrivastine?

  • Benadryl Allergy Relief

Now, we have some good news and some bad news here. The bad news is that Benadryl Allergy Relief is the only product out there that contains acrivastine, meaning there's no cheaper alternative.

The good news is that this is only hayfever pill for which this is the case. Every other active ingredient is available in both branded and generic medicines, so acrivastine is the only one you'll need to pay full whack for.

Cheapest places to buy Benadryl Allergy Relief

As there are no generic hayfever tablets containing acrivastine, we've listed the cheapest places to buy Benadryl Allergy Relief instead.

As it's cheaper to buy the medication in larger quantities, we've only included retailers that stock Benadryl in boxes of 24 or more.

Online:

  • Express Chemist – 48 tablets for £15.69 (£12.40 plus £3.29 delivery) (25.8p per tablet)
  • Ocado – 24 tablets for £8.70 (36.3p per tablet) (delivery costs vary)

In store:

  • ASDA – 24 tablets for £9 (37.5p per tablet)
  • Boots – 24 tablets for £8.99 (37.5p per tablet)
  • Morrisons – 24 tablets for £7 (29.2p per tablet)
  • Superdrug – 48 tablets for £16.99 (35.4p per tablet)
  • Tesco – 24 tablets for £8.70 (36.3p per tablet)
  • Waitrose – 24 tablets for £8.85 (36.9p per tablet)

Cetirizine hydrochloride and cetrizine dihydrochloride

benadryl zirtek piriteze cetirizine hydrochloride hay fever tablet

Which hayfever medicines contain cetirizine hydrochloride?

  • Benadryl One-a-Day Relief
  • Piriteze
  • Zirtek

Some hayfever medicines will list their active ingredient as cetirizine hydrochloride, while others will list it as cetirizine dihydrochloride. However, as there's no known difference between the two, we've lumped them together for this price comparison exercise.

Cheapest cetirizine hydrochloride tablets

Online:

  • Amazon – 360 tablets for £6.81 (1.9p per tablet) (free delivery)
  • Pharmacy First – 120 tablets for £2.79 (2.3p per tablet) (free delivery)

In store:

  • ASDA – 30 tablets for £2 (6.7p per tablet)
  • Boots – 30 tablets for £1.99 (6.6p per tablet)
  • Morrisons – 30 tablets for £2.50 (8.3p per tablet)
  • Sainsbury's – 30 tablets for £2.90 (9.7p per tablet)
  • Superdrug – 30 tablets for £1.99 (6.6p per tablet)
  • Tesco – 30 tablets for £2.75 (9.2p per tablet)
  • Wilko – 30 tablets for £1.50 (5p per tablet)

Chlorphenamine maleate

cheap Chlorphenamine Maleate piriton tablets

Which hayfever medicines contain chlorphenamine maleate?

  • Piriton (tablets and syrup)

Note that, despite the similar packaging and brand name, Piriton and Piriteze are not the same product. They're made by the same company, but the two medicines contain different active ingredients.

Cheapest chlorphenamine maleate tablets

Online:

  • Pharmacy First – 500 tablets for £12.99 (2.6p per tablet) (free delivery)
  • Express Chemist – 500 tablets for £12.79 (£9.50 plus £3.29 delivery) (2.6p per tablet)

In store:

  • Boots – 60 tablets for £5.89 (9.8p per tablet)

Loratadine

cheap loratadine clarityn hay fever tablets

Which hayfever medicines contain loratadine?

  • Clarityn

Loratadine is arguably the most common active ingredient in hayfever pills. While Clarityn is the only major branded hayfever medicine to contain it, most supermarkets will tend to opt for loratadine in their own-brand hayfever pills.

Cheapest loratadine tablets

Online:

  • Amazon – 240 tablets for £4.53 (1.9p per tablet) (free delivery with Amazon Prime)
  • Pharmacy First – 180 tablets for £4.79 (2.7p per tablet) (free delivery)

In store:

  • ASDA – 30 tablets for £2 (6.7p per tablet)
  • Boots – 30 tablets for £1.99 (6.6p per tablet)
  • Morrisons – 30 tablets for £2.50 (8.3p per tablet)
  • Sainsbury's – 30 tablets for £2.90 (9.7p per tablet)
  • Superdrug – 30 tablets for £1.99 (6.6p per tablet)
  • Tesco – 30 tablets for £2.75 (9.2p per tablet)
  • Waitrose – 30 tablets for £2.95 (9.8p per tablet)
  • Wilko – 30 tablets for £1.50 (5p per tablet)

6 ways to reduce hayfever symptoms

  1. Get prescription hayfever pills

    prescription hayfever pills

    Credit: pikselstock - Shutterstock

    Now with any luck, regular hayfever pills will be enough to see you through the summer without too much trouble. However, in some cases you'll need something a bit stronger.

    If you find that the medication you can buy over the counter just isn't cutting it, ask your doctor for some prescription treatment. From experience we can tell you that their effectiveness is almost too good to be true (although your doctor may have good reason not to prescribe these extra-strength pills if you have other conditions).

    What's more, as prescriptions are free in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, this option could end up saving you money too! And in England, where the prescription charge is fixed at £9 a pop, you could save money if you get multiple months' worth of medication on one prescription.

Check out our guide to cheap healthcare and dentistry for more tips on how to save money on keeping well.
  1. Use eye drops and nasal sprays

    using eye drops

    Credit: Warner Bros

    Don't listen to Rachel Green – eye drops aren't that bad at all. In fact, the relief they'll give you from the agony of itchy eyes will be more than worth overcoming any fears you have about putting something in your eye.

    Eye drops don't tend to hurt, but if you're really not keen on using them (or you wear contact lenses – most eye drops aren't suitable for use if you're wearing contacts), you can now get eye spray too.

    Eye sprays are usually suitable for use with contact lenses (always check the packaging though, of course), and all you have to do is close your eyes and spray your eyelids. Nothing to be afraid of!

    As for nasal sprays, it's important to remember that blocked noses are not caused by mucus – they're actually a result of swollen blood vessels in your nose. So, if you're just a bit snotty, it might not be worth buying some nasal spray. That said, if you're having trouble breathing through your nose, nasal spray could be the solution.

    One of the hidden terrors of hayfever is waking up in the middle of the night unable to breathe because your nose is so blocked. If you know you're susceptible to a blocked nose, it might be worth investing in a nasal spray for the bedside table.

  2. Avoid itchy eyes by wearing an eye mask

    eye mask

    We stumbled across this trick by accident, when a t-shirt draped over the face seemed to be the only way to soothe some very, very itchy eyes. It got us thinking... could preventing itchy eyes in the morning be as simple as covering them overnight?

    Well, according to our 100% success rate using this hack, yes – it is that simple.

    All you need is an eye mask (we went for this one as the silk means it's not only comfortable, but great for staying cool on hotter nights), and you're there. Plus, you get the added bonus of blocking out the early-rising summer sun that seems so keen to wake you up at 5.30am.

  3. Hoover your room to get rid of pollen

    hoovering a room

    Credit: 20th Century Fox

    Pollen is basically just dust – hence why, on spring or summer days, you can see a thin layer of it decorating all the cars on your street.

    As such, to get rid of the pollen in your room, just do exactly what you'd do to get rid of dust: hoover. Even vacuuming your mattress, pillows and duvet is worth doing, as you'll be literally covering yourself in them every night and they're bound to pick up some pollen.

  4. Don't hang washing outside

    clothes pegs washing

    This one's pretty simple. Considering that your bedroom gets covered in pollen when it's inside, it follows that the clothes you've hung outside will be coated in it too.

    Fortunately the solution is simple – get yourself a foldable clothes airer so you can dry your clothes inside all year round. Just make sure you ventilate the room a bit, otherwise you'll end up damp as bad as this horrendous house.

  5. Shower before going bed

    showering

    Credit: alexring - Shutterstock

    It's not just clothes and bed sheets that can carry pollen – you can, too! But by showering before you go to bed, you should hopefully be able to wash away most of the pollen that's clung to you throughout the day, meaning you're less likely to be rudely awoken by hayfever symptoms.

    Plus, after a hot summer's day, there's nothing better than cooling off in the shower. Double win.

The cost of all those showers will start to add up, so use our guide to cutting your water bill and minimise the damage.

Hayfever is a cruel mistress, but hopefully this guide will help you reduce your symptoms, as well as the damage it can do to your bank balance!

Did you know you tend to only be allergic to the pollen in your own country? With that in mind, check out this list of cheap student summer holidays and run as far from the UK as possible.

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