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How Do I Choose the Best Antihistamine?

Antihistamine tablets.
Antihistamines can provide fast-acting relief for people who experience infrequent reactions to triggers such as pet dander.
Antihistamines can often stop dangerous effects of an allergic reaction, including throat swelling.
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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2014
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The best antihistamine for an individual experiencing an allergic reaction is one that provides quick relief from symptoms without negatively impacting his or her ability to function. An antihistamine which may work well for one allergy sufferer may work differently for someone else. These pills contain chemicals that react differently based on each body's unique chemical construction. Individuals searching for the medication that will serve their needs best may wish to try several different pills over an extended period of time before settling on one long-term solution.

Histamines are the chemical agents released by the body to fight off allergens, such as pollen and dust. These chemicals neutralize the allergen, rendering it harmless to the immune system. Some people are hypersensitive to this chemical and can experience side effects, such as a stuffy, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. An antihistamine agent is a compound that is administered to lessen such side effects. These compounds may be taken orally or administered intravenously.

Some common antihistamines are diphenhydramine, loratadine, fexofenadine, and cetirizine. These are the specific names of the chemical compounds, though they are typically sold in drug stores by more recognizable brand names. Certain types of these medications that are designed to provide fast-acting relief can cause drowsiness and a disconnected mental state. These fast-acting pills are generally the best antihistamine treatment for someone who experiences infrequent allergic reactions to specific irritants, such as bug bites or pet dander.

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Individuals who experience allergy symptoms on a regular basis may find that the best antihistamine pills for their needs are those that can be taken during the day without such side effects. Daily antihistamines work more slowly than those designed to be taken at the onset of an allergy attack. These daily medications build up gradually in the body's blood stream to protect against frequent encounters with allergens and typically don't have the negative side effects of fast-acting medications.

Allergy sufferers who experience continuous swelling throughout their sinus passages may find that the best antihistamine pharmaceuticals for them must include some form of decongestant. Not all antihistamine medication contains this added ingredient. Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine, restrict blood flood to the sinuses and reduce the amount of fluid present. This allows an overall reduction in swelling and alleviates excessive mucous drainage. Certain types of antihistamines are also paired with decongestants in one pill and either feature the letter D at the end of the medication name or are labeled appropriately on the packaging.

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bluedolphin
Post 3

I used to take diphenhydramine before when I had seasonal allergies. But I'm on antidepressant medication right now and I found out that antidepressants and antihistamine drugs interact negatively.

Is there any antihistamine medication that doesn't cause problems when taken with antidepressants? Or are they all pretty much the same?

ZipLine
Post 2

@turquoise-- Why don't you just take non-drowsy antihistamines? They're usually labeled at the pharmacy as "day time" allergy medicine.

I've been using them for several years and they really do work. It doesn't make me drowsy or sleepy. You can still take regular antihistamine at night if you want.

It really is a relief to be rid of allergy symptoms at work without the drowsiness.

turquoise
Post 1

What I hate most about having allergies is taking allergy medicine. Antihistamines make me so drowsy and sleepy. It's very difficult to work while I'm on them. I usually end up fighting with myself not to fall asleep. If I don't take the medication, then I have to deal will sneezing and a runny nose all day.

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