All About Antihistamines
When you suffer from allergy symptoms you become aware of how debilitating they can be. Seasonal allergies like hay fever can cause a person to become so uncomfortable outdoors that they spend much of their time inside the house. Most allergy sufferers have tried home remedies and hiding from the pollen to minimize the time spent sneezing and sniffing. Antihistamines are a variety of medication that can help to alleviate the symptoms of allergies, including hay fever.
A histamine is a chemical that your body releases in response to an invader. A person’s immune system is designed to release these chemicals to battle disease-causing organisms including those that create infection within the body. When a histamine reaction is extremely pronounced or is created from exposure to things that are normally considered benign, an allergy response is formed. For example, if your body produces a histamine response to pollen, this is an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen is found in the air and is not considered to be a harmful agent, but many people have this allergy. Histamine is released when basophils or mast cells attach to a part of the body that is irritated by the allergen.
An antihistamine is a medication that works to stop those mast cells or basophils from producing histamine. They block the body’s histamine receptors. Antihistamines come in both prescription and over-the-counter strengths. They are available at many drug stores and grocery stores and are widely used to treat allergies like hay fever. Antihistamines come in several different forms that include paste, oral or pill form and liquid form. The type of antihistamine that you will choose to treat your allergies will depend on what sort of symptoms you have most often. Paste antihistamines are used for allergic reactions that affect the skin. They are often chosen for people who have hives or itchy skin due to allergen exposure.
Pill and liquid forms of most antihistamines are used to treat symptoms like itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing and itchy throat. Older types of these medications were known to cause marked drowsiness and were also used to treat nausea and vomiting. The newer antihistamines generally do not have this side effect and can be taken on a daily basis to treat allergy symptoms. Antihistamines also come in prescription strengths to combat allergy symptoms that are not affected by the over-the-counter medications. A doctor will generally test for allergies before prescribing the prescription antihistamines.
Antihistamines, like any medication, do have their side effects. Some of these side effects include dry mouth, weight gain, constipation, increased irritability and even urine retention. Antihistamine use should always be reported to a family doctor because these medications can also interfere with other prescribed medications.
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