Antihistamines are commonly used to help alleviate the symptoms once an individual experiences an allergic reaction to a particular allergen. This medication has been used throughout the years in treating various kinds of allergies. Just like with any medication, there are certain side effects as well as contraindications when using antihistamines that you should be familiar with, especially those who are prone to allergies.
What you need to know about antihistamines
Antihistamines are basically over-the-counter medications utilized in treating the effects of acute, seasonal and ongoing allergies. These medications can relieve common symptoms of allergies such as itchy, watery eyes, runny or stuffy nose, congestion and sneezing. By enrolling in a first aid class, you will learn how to manage allergies.
The popular brands in the market include Benadryl and Claritin but there are hundreds of brands available. Take note that antihistamines are available in various forms. The most common in the market are capsules and tablets but also found in liquid which is commonly used for children. Additionally, some are available as nasal sprays.
How they work
Antihistamines function by blocking histamine which is a brain chemical that is present in the body. Once the body reacts to a particular allergen such as pet dander, dust or mold, histamine is released. The moment the brain releases the histamine, it signals the nasal passages and eyes to swell and leak in order to prevent the allergen from entering. Nevertheless, the effects of histamine can be considered bothersome than the allergen itself. By disrupting the ability of the body to release histamine, the allergic response is minimized.
What are the side effects of antihistamines?
Just like with any medication, antihistamines can also cause certain side effects. The common side effects include headaches, sleepiness, dizziness, changes with the vision, stomach upset, dry nose/mouth and irritability. Most of these effects are mild and subsides once the body adjusts to the antihistamine being taken.
Other side effects such as difficulty breathing, heart palpitations and urination difficulty must be reported to a doctor right away. Take note that these side effects can indicate an allergic response to the medication or signs of a serious underlying health problem.
Important considerations to bear in mind
Individuals who have high blood pressure, glaucoma, stomach ulcers, heart diseases, urinary problems, seizure disorders, overactive thyroid and lung disorders must be carefully monitored by the doctor while antihistamines are taken. Those who have any of these conditions should consult a doctor to determine the benefits and risks involved by taking antihistamines. Women who are pregnant and currently breastfeeding must take antihistamines only under the supervision of a doctor.
Take note that there are some medications that can react adversely with antihistamines. Those who currently take sleeping aids, tranquilizers, sedatives, depression medications, muscle relaxants, seizure medications and narcotic painkillers must consult a doctor first. Additionally, if the skin or eyes turn yellow in color while antihistamines are taken, it is important to discontinue the medication and consult a doctor right away.