Antihistamines

Antihistamines: Overview

Antihistamines are drugs that are used to treat a number of allergic health conditions by blocking the effects of a protein called histamine.

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Source

Antihistamines are available in tablet or capsule (oral) form, as creams, lotions and gels (topical form), and as a nasal spray.

Function

Antihistamines work by preventing the actions of histamine, which is a protein produced by the body as part of its natural defences.  Although histamine is generally useful, it is sometimes necessary to use antihistamines to block its effects.  For example, when there is an excessive allergic reaction to harmless substances such as pollen.

Side-Effects

Serious drowsiness can be caused by so-called 'first-generation' antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and chlorphenamine.  People who regularly take first-generation antihistamines are more likely to be involved in serious accidents.  Second-generation antihistamines in general do not cause drowsiness; examples of these include loratadine and cetirizine.

On This Page

Antihistamines:

Antihistamines can help with the following:

Allergy

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Antihistamine drops are placed directly into the eye.

Metabolic

Meniere's Disease

While originally developed to treat allergy symptoms, most Meniere's disease patients are now prescribed antihistamines to treat vertigo.  Antihistamines are believed to suppress vertigo symptoms by blocking certain chemical pathways in the brain.  However, not all antihistamines are effective in suppressing vertigo: Antihistamines that do not have a sedative effect do not cross the blood-brain barrier and, therefore, cannot penetrate the inner ear or balance centers enough to be helpful.

Skin-Hair-Nails

Eczema

Antihistamines can relieve itching and break the 'itch-scratch-itch' cycle which many eczema sufferers say is the worst symptom.  Although scratching relieves an itch, it also worsens inflammation and itching by causing more inflammatory substances to be released in the skin.

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KEY

May be useful: may help with
May be useful:
may help with
Moderately useful: often helps with
Moderately useful:
often helps with
Very useful: is highly recommended for
Very useful:
is highly recommended for