How to Safely Take Antihistamines

Allergy symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat and congestion can often be severe enough to seek the aid of medicinal drugs. Antihistamines are over-the-counter and prescription medicines that provide allergy symptom relief. They work by preventing histamines (what your body produces in reaction to allergens) from attaching to your cells and producing the swelling that leads to congestion and discomfort. Most healthy adults do not experience extreme adverse effects from antihistamine medicines. However, it is important to understand how to safely take antihistamines prior to ingesting them.


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    Determine if your symptoms are a result of allergens by carefully reviewing the medicinal labels prior to purchase.
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    Determine the proper dosage according to the age and/or weight indicators.
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    Determine if there are contraindications with any other drugs you might be taking.
    • These may include sleeping pills, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, sedatives and/or muscle relaxants.
    • Know that antihistamines are oftentimes included with decongestants and/or pain relievers; therefore, if you are taking a decongestant you may not need an additional antihistamine medicine.
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    Determine if you have other medical conditions that contraindicate antihistamine use.
    • Consult your doctor about the safety of antihistamine use if you have glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, an enlarged prostate, thyroid problems, breathing problems such as those from emphysema, bronchitis or asthma, or are a woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding.
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    Consult with a doctor if symptoms do not improve after 7 days or are accompanied by fever.


  • Insurance coverage for prescription antihistamines will vary because many antihistamines are found over the counter. Be sure to check with your insurance company about their cost coverage if you choose a prescription antihistamine.
  • Drink water and rest as much as possible while experiencing allergy symptoms and while taking antihistamines.
  • Allergy medicines range greatly in price. Generic antihistamines contain the same active ingredients and may be a good choice for those looking to save money.
  • Most antihistamines are available over-the-counter at pharmacies and grocery stores.
  • All people respond differently to medicines, therefore you might need to try a few different antihistamines to see which one works the best for your symptoms.
  • Although antihistamines are effective at curbing allergy symptoms, they do not cure allergies. Therefore it is advised to avoid any allergens that may be causing the negative symptoms. This might include limiting outdoor exposure during airborne allergy seasons or avoiding contact with certain animals.


  • Always consult with your doctor prior to taking any medicines, including antihistamines.
  • Do not give antihistamines to children under the age of 4. Antihistamine use in a child can cause serious medical problems and even death.
  • Side effects may include (but are not limited to): drowsiness, urine retention, blurred vision, abdominal pain, confusion and/or drowsiness.
  • Be sure to read the label on all medicines you might be taking so you do not take contraindicated medicines or ingest too much antihistamine.
  • Do not operate heavy machinery if this medicine makes you drowsy.
  • In the case of suspected overdose, go to the emergency room or contact your local poison control center.

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Categories: Taking Pills and Medicine