Allergy Medications


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allergy-medicationsAntihistamine and nose sprays are a multimillion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. Many of these products are purchased every year by allergy sufferers without fully understanding whether or not they will even work for their specific symptoms. It is important to understand how these products will assist in the treatment of allergies.

Antihistamine Decongestant Compounds

The many over-the-counter drugs for treatment of minor allergic symptoms are similar to cold compounds but they normally contain less of aspirin acetaminophen. Usually these drug compounds contain an antihistamine and a decongestant agent, which can be identified on the label. If you tolerate one of these drugs well and get good relief, it may be continued for several weeks (for example, through a hay fever season) without seeing a physician. The same sort of drug taken as nose drops or a nasal spray should be used more sparingly and only for short periods, as detailed below.

Reading the labels: The decongestant is often phenylephrine, ephedrine or phenylpropanolamine. If the compound name is not familiar, the suffix “-ephrine” or “-edrine” will usually identify this component of the compound. The antihistamine is often chlorpheniramine or pyrilamine. If not, the antihistamine is sometimes (but not always) identified on the label by the suffix “-amine.”

Dosage: Per product directions. Reduce dose if side effects are noted or try another compound.

Side effects: These are usually minor and disappear after the drug is stopped or decreased in dose. Agitation and insomnia usually indicate too much of the decongestant component. Drowsiness usually indicates too much antihistamine. If you can avoid the substance to which you are allergic, it is far superior to taking drugs which, to a certain degree may impair your functioning.

Nose Drops and Sprays

A runny nose is often the worst symptom of a cold or allergy. Because this complaint is so common, remedies are big business and there are many advertised claims to decrease nasal secretions.¬† The active ingredient in these compounds is the decongestant drug ephedrine or phenylpropanolamine. When used, you can immediately feel the membranes shrinking down or “drawing,” and you will note a decrease in the amount of secretion.

The major drawback is that the relief is temporary. Usually the symptoms return in a couple of hours and you will need to repeat the dose. This is fine for a while, but these drugs work by causing the muscles in the walls of the blood vessels to constrict, decreasing blood flow. After many applications, these small muscles become fatigued and fail to respond. Finally, they are so fatigued that they relax entirely and the situation becomes worse than it was in the beginning. This reaction of over-use can cause a rebound effect thus prompting people to take more nasal medication leading to an increasing worse situation. Therefore, it is recommended to use nose sprays or drops for only a few days at a time.

Dosage: These drugs are almost always used in the wrong way. For example, if you don’t bathe the swollen membranes of the inner nose, you won’t get the desired effect. It is better to apply small amounts to one nostril while lying down on that side for a few minutes, then repeat for the other side if necessary. Treat up to four times a day if needed, but do not continue for more than three days without interrupting the therapy.

Side effects: The rebound effect from prolonged use is the most common problem. If you apply these agents incorrectly and swallow a large amount of the drug, you may experience the a rapid heart rate and an uneasy, agitated feeling. The drying effect of the drug can result in nosebleeds. Try to avoid  the substances you are allergic to rather than treating the consequences of exposure.

Source: The AllergyReliefExpert.com staff

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