You've Been Taking Allergy Antihistamines Wrong All Your Life: This
Health

You’ve been taking allergy antihistamines wrong all your life: this is how you should do it

Although these are well-known and widely used drugs, there are still many people who take them incorrectly today.

A blister with medicines.  PHOTO: Michal Jarmoluk (Pixabay)

Antihistamines are one of the most used groups of drugs in Spain, especially during the beginning of the spring season: sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, itchy throat and even hives-like reactions are some of the signs that may indicate that an allergic reaction is taking place.

There are not a few people who suffer this type of reaction, in different intensities, year after year. When the change of seasons and the increase in environmental pollen occur, the aforementioned symptoms become common, even in the midst of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

However, and despite the fact that today there is a great deal of medical experience with this type of drug, there are many users of the same who do not take them in the right way, as noted by Derek Chu, an allergy expert and clinical scholar at McMaster University.

According to Chu, together with Professor Gordon Sussman of the Temerty College of Medicine University of Toronto, and whose report has recently been published in CMAJ, the Antihistamine users should review which medications they regularly use for your allergic reactions.

There are first and second generation antihistamines, and the most modern ones are usually more powerful, more specific, faster and safer when it comes to treating symptoms such as allergic rhinitis or hives. However, older or first-generation antihistamines tend to be associated with more adverse effects, such as sedation, drowsiness, cognitive changes, and even death in the event of an overdose.

For all these reasons, Chu and Sussman wanted to make clear five key points to take into account when using these drugs:

1. Antihistamines are one of the most misused groups of drugs Worldwide. His essential use is to relieve the symptoms of allergic reactions or outbreaks of hives, but do not aim improve the symptoms of asthma, eczema, cough or insomnia.

2. The first generation antihistamines are associated with significant side effects and sometimes fatal. Some of the older antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, or hydroxyzine, can cause drowsiness, cognitive disturbances, and impaired school performance. Overdose of these drugs can even cause death, and they are potentially dangerous in both young and old.

3. The second generation antihistamines, more modern, are safer, equal to affordable and just as effective or even better than first-generation antihistamines. They have been shown to be more effective in some cases and their effects last longer, with fewer associated side effects, such as drowsiness.

4. Antihistamines should not be used instead of epinephrine to treat reactions such as anaphylaxis. Oral drugs can be used in conjunction with these types of injections in severe cases, but they are not a substitute.

5. Finally, it is known that the most antihistamines are safe during pregnancy and lactation. Research has shown that, taken in safe standard doses, there is no harm to the fetus during pregnancy or alterations in lactation. Also, as long as they are used at the doses studied, they are safe in children.