Allergy Medication: What You Need to Know

allergies

Allergy Medication: What You Need to Know

An allergy is basically the body’s immune system reacting unusually as a result of exposure to a foreign substance or allergen. The type of allergy is categorized by the kind of allergen that has caused it; it could be a food allergy, a contact allergy, drug allergy, a seasonal or an animal allergy or even a reaction to rubber latex. The list is endless.

When the allergens cannot be avoided, one has to resort to one of the many allergy medications available, most of which are over-the-counter and promise to give instant relief. But due to the nature of these medicines, a few things must be kept in mind while using them.

 Options in Allergy Medication

Antihistamines (first- generation)

Good examples of this type of first-level cure to an allergy are medicines like Benadryl and Chlortrimeton. Though they promise quick relief, they cannot be taken on a regular basis because of their side effects.

Antihistamines (second- generation)

These are the next generation of antihistamines such as cetirizine, Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, fexofenadine, and loratadine. They too can be bought without a prescription but do not make you as drowsy as the other options.

Homeopathic Medicines

These are a form of alternative medicine that use sublingual immunotherapy and work to improve the immune system of the body.

Leukotriene Modifiers

An allergy medication like Singulair falls under this category. They are used to fight both asthma and allergy, and they work by blocking body chemical like leukotrienes that are involved in the allergic reaction.

Allergy Medications Can Have Side Effects

Keep in mind…

  • A lot of allergy medication that you buy over-the-counter may make you sleepy.
  • Please make sure you take the time to read all of the product information on the medication’s package carefully, this includes the ingredients, the directions for use, the stipulations for usage as per the age of the patients and the precautions to be taken while consuming that medication. Some of the medicines may contain decongestants or antihistamines and need to be avoided if you consume alcohol, intend to drive, or work with tools or heavy machines.
  • An overdose of an allergy medication may do more damage than help, so be sure not to over medicate yourself or the affected patient. Drug resistance is just an example of how bad it could get if you overdose.
  • Be aware of the medical or specific health condition the person has and, if required, even consult a doctor before consuming any of the allergy medication if you are not sure.

Nasal Sprays and Their Usage

Many medicines come in the form of nasal sprays and as the name suggests, they are consumed as drops via the nose. Most of these are over-the-counter decongestants and do give almost instant relief but can do more harm than good. They may cause a relapse and actually increase the stuffiness or congestion over time.

Ensure you look out for side effects like rapid heartbeat, agitation or even nosebleed if you are taking these. Also, make sure you use them only for a maximum of 3 days continuously since prolonged usage may be harmful. If required, take a few days off and use again for 3 days.

One can alternatively moisten the nasal track with saline drops or sprays. They, too,  help in getting rid of sinus congestion and clear the nasal passages. Because they don’t cause side effects, they can be used at a stretch for a longer duration.

Slower relief can be achieved by using nasal corticosteroid sprays to clear allergies. If you can deal with drowsiness,  then another prescription drug option is a Nasal antihistamine.

It is important to be completely aware of the implications of allergy medications before taking them. As a general rule, see a doctor in case the drugs cause no improvement or even worsen your condition.

Dr. Sue Reddy specializes in the treatment of infectious disease among many other specialties. She understands what is required to live a healthy, active life. Please feel free to take a look around her website and if you feel she provides services you may be interested in, give Dr. Reddy a call. Her staff would be more than happy to set up an appointment and answer any questions you may have.

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