Sep 16, 2019
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Anti-histamines: The most commonly prescribed allergy medicines

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Several people all over the world suffer from allergies. Allergies are very common. Persons suffering from allergy experience symptoms such as sneezing, chest congestion, watery eyes, skin rash, and runny nose.

Remember, there is no cure for allergies. However, symptoms of allergy can be managed using allergy medicines.

Both prescription and OTC allergy medicines are available in the market. These include antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, combination drugs, and others. Among all allergy medicines, drugs belonging to a class of antihistamines are the most widely prescribed.


Antihistamines are a class of allergy medicines that are widely prescribed for treating allergic reactions. They are available in the form of pills, nasal sprays, eye drops, and liquids. Drugs belonging to this class are usually recommended for short term treatment. Chromic allergies can result in health problems, which anti-histamines cannot treat.

How do anti-histamines treat allergies?

When the body comes in contact with an allergen such as pet dander, ragweed, dust mites, etc., it triggers the release of histamine. Histamine is an endogenous chemical that produces allergic symptoms such as the runny nose, watery eyes, itchy skin, etc.

Antihistamines block the action of histamine on H1 receptors. This stops the symptoms of allergies. These allergy medicines help in relieving symptoms associated with different allergies, which include seasonal (hay fever), food, and indoor allergies. However, they will not able to treat every symptom. For nasal congestion, your doctor may recommend using a decongestant or a combination of an antihistamine and decongestant.

What are the different types of Antihistamines available?

Both prescription and OTC antihistamines are available in the market. The prescription antihistamines include Azelastine eyedrops (Optivar), Emedastine eyedrops (Emadine), Desloratadine (Clarinex), etc. The OTC drug products include Brompheniramine (Dimetane), Cetirizine (Zyrtec), Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), Fexofenadine (Allegra), and Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin).

What are side effects produced by anti-histamines? 

The first-generation antihistamines produce more side effects, especially drowsiness than second-generation antihistamines. As a result, people prefer taking second-generation anti-histamines. The most commonly observed side effects of antihistamines include drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and vomiting. It is better to take any allergy medicine that produces drowsiness before going to sleep.

Usage guidelines for safe and effective use

Allergy medicines should be taken only after consulting a physician. A physician will prescribe the most appropriate dose. During pregnancy and breast-feeding, use this medication only after asking a physician. Do not take allergy medicines if you are suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disorder, kidney or liver function, etc.

Other anti-allergy medicines 

Decongestants are other allergy medicines that help to relieve chest congestion. These are used along with antihistamines for the treatment of allergies. Some of the commonly used decongestants include pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, etc.

Steroids, particularly corticosteroids reduce inflammation associated with allergies. These allergy medications effectively treat allergic symptoms. Take these medications regularly as directed by a physician to get the best results.

Depending on your type and allergy symptoms, your physician will prescribe the right allergy medicine. These medications are available at local pharmacy stores and online drugstores.

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Health Care

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