Itchy, sneezy, congested and miserable — sound familiar? Many allergy sufferers know these symptoms all too well. If allergy trouble is troubling you, an antihistamine could be a lifesaver. But first, what is antihistamine?
What is histamine? Histamines are produced by your immune system. This production is in response to an irritant or allergen. Your body sends histamines throughout itself to combat a perceived threat to your health. Histamines' responses are frequently uncomfortable (causing the well-known itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose and congestion) and in extreme cases, life-threatening (where the airways swell up, causing breathing trouble).
What is antihistamine? The Mayo Clinic defines antihistamine as a treatment for the prevention or abatement of histamine production in the body. As histamine responses are often irritating and even dangerous, antihistamines are very useful medications in controlling the reaction.
Popular antihistamines. Antihistamines come in many dosage forms such as liquids, capsules, tablets, extended release capsules or tablets, films and suppositories. There are several types of medications that are classified as antihistamine — both over-the-counter and prescription. Some of these types include:
- Dipenhydramine is an over-the-counter medication that is used for its antihistamine properties. It is very useful in hay fever and cough due to cold treatment. Dipenhydramine also tends to cause drowsiness, so it should be used with caution. In fact, dipenhydramine is often used as a sleep aid.
- Hydroxyzine is another antihistamine that is commonly used for the care of nervous and emotional issues. Its anti-anxiety properties make it handy as a pre-surgical medication.
- Cyproheptadine is an antihistamine used to enhance or stimulate the appetite in both adults and children.
- Loratadine and cetirizine are an effective treatment for the prevention and lessening of bronchospasms, wheezing and trouble breathing when caused by a reaction to certain substances — particularly in people with asthma.
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