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Antihistamines: What You Need to Know

So you have allergies. Now what? Antihistamines are typically the first thing people try to alleviate the symptoms of allergies. Before you head to your local drug store, read this article to find out a little more about them!

How Do Antihistamines Work?

When your body comes into contact with whatever you’re allergic to, whether it be dogs or dust, it creates chemicals called histamines. These chemicals cause changes in the tissues which result in symptoms such as stuffy nose, runny nose and eyes, and/or itchy eyes, nose, and sometimes mouth. Some people even develop a rash, called hives.

Antihistamines help to reduce allergy symptoms by reducing or blocking the histamines, hence the name antihistamines.

These medicines work well to relieve symptoms of different types of allergies, including hay fever, indoor allergies, and food allergies. But, unfortunately, they can't relieve every symptom.

To treat nasal congestion, your doctor may recommend a nasal spray. These medications work best at relieving nasal congestion and come in the form of intranasal steroids, antihistamines, and even combinations of the two medications together.

Are there Different Types of Antihistamines?

Yes! Antihistamines can come in the form of tablets, capsules, liquids, nasal sprays, and eye drops. You can purchase some antihistamines over the counter, but some are only available by prescription.

Some prescription antihistamines include Optivar, Astelin, Patanase, Astepro, Palgic, Pataday, Atarax, Vistaril.

You are probably more familiar with the OTC antihistamines include Zyrtec, Chlor-Trimeton, Benadryl, Allegra, Alavert, Claritin, and most recently Xyzal has gone over the counter.

Side Effects of Antihistamines

There are 3 generations of antihistamines. Older generations tend to cause more side effects, particularly drowsiness.

Newer antihistamines have fewer side effects, so they may be a better choice for some people.

Some of the main side effects of antihistamines include dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, restlessness or moodiness (in some children), trouble urinating or not being able to urinate, blurred vision and confusion.

If you take an antihistamine that causes drowsiness, do so before bedtime. Don’t take it during the day before you drive or use machinery.

Read the label before you take an allergy drug. Antihistamines may interact with other medications you are taking.

Talk to us first if you have an enlarged prostate, heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, kidney or liver disease, a bladder obstruction, or glaucoma. Also check with us if you are pregnant or nursing.

Come in and see us, and we will help you determine your allergy triggers and figure out which combination of medications are the right solution for you!


Take control of your allergies & asthma today!

Asthma & Allergy Specialist has convenient locations throughout Charlotte, NC
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