For some of us, our bodies tell us it’s hay fever season in Japan before we have had a chance to check our calendars. For others, the dreaded season causes so much discomfort that we begin to take our standard regimen of antihistamines weeks prior to the onset of our symptoms. For many international residents, hay fever kicks in suddenly after years of living in the country. Many of us also take allergy medicine year-round due to pets or other environmental factors.
With red and itchy eyes, blocked sinuses and sneezing, we all venture to the nearest drug store and find ourselves staring at a wall of random medications.
Of course, it is always best to speak with your doctor about which medication is right for you and for medical advice, but in this article, we outline the hay fever and allergy medicine you can find at Japanese drugstores. Some information may have changed since original publication date*, and the prices do not include the 10% sales tax.
Summary: For those of us familiar with the common allergy medication Claritin, this is the Japanese version of that! This antihistamine comes in a pill form that helps with hay fever, house dust and pet allergies. It is intended for children and adults aged 15 and older. Both a licensed physician here in Japan, as well as drug store staff, agreed that this medication is one of the best all-around allergy medications you can purchase in-store.
Dosage: It should be taken once per day, around the same time and after a meal.
Price: ¥1,380 (7 pills) or ¥1,980 (14 pills)
Considerations: The box indicates that this medication contains lactose. Additionally, those breastfeeding should avoid this medication as well as those with liver disease, kidney disease or epilepsy.
Summary: If you are familiar with the allergy medication, Allegra, this is the Japanese version, but for kids. It is intended for children between 7 and 14. This medication comes in pill form and was recommended by the drug store staff as the best all-around allergy medication for children.
Dosage: For kids between 7 and 11 years old, take two times a day. One pill at night and one in the morning (daily dose 2 pills). For kids between 12 and 14 years old, take two pills twice a day, in the morning and in the evening (daily dose 4 pills).
Price: ¥1,180 (16 pills)
Considerations: The box does not indicate any considerations besides the caution not to breastfeed while taking it, or if you are allergic to common ingredients found in the medication.
3. ナザールα and ナザールαクール
Summary: These nasal sprays come in a normal version (ノーマル) and a cool version (クール). They are used to treat seasonal allergies caused by pollen: stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing.
Dosage: Adults 18 and over, usually twice a day in the morning, in both the left and right nasal passages. The box indicates that you can use it up to 4 times a day (8 sprays in all), but you need to make sure each time is 3 hours apart.
Price: ¥1,780 (10ml spray bottle)
Considerations: This medication should not be used for more than 3 months in a year. The box indicates that those with systemic fungal disease, hypertension, tuberculosis, diabetes, recurrent epistaxis, asthma, glaucoma or infection should not take this medication; as well as those who are pregnant or may become pregnant. If you need to use this for more than 3 months of the year, discuss options with your doctor.
Feature image: kanaloco.jp | Medicine images Lillian Loescher
**Article originally published April 2022