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What is an antihistamine?

As the name suggests, the purpose of antihistamines is to counter histamine reactions. Histamine exists in any substance (such as food) which has oxidized. This causes such symptoms such as itching, rashes, and other inflammation. Once taken, it may take up to an hour to see the anti-histamine have an effect on symptoms. All antihistamines target inflammation within the body, but different types of anti-histamines (or sometimes a combination of medications) may be taken depending on the specific set of symptoms.

Types of antihistamines

There are also now H3 blockers and H4 blockers in an experimental stage to determine how they may be best used in treatment:

Over-the-counter medications should be taken as per the dosage on the packaging. Prescriptions should of course be used as directed by your doctor.

Histamines and other allergens in antihistamines

One thing you should do before taking any over the counter or prescription medication such as an antihistamine is to check both the active ingredients and inactive ingredients. Some antihistamines may contain undisclosed allergens as "filler". This tends to occur with medications in tablet form rather than a gelcap or similar. Both Zyrtec and Claritin contain lactose monohydrate (a milk sugar), for example, which may be problematic for someone with dairy related allergies. Remember that allergies tend to be cumulative. A tiny amount of lactose in one tiny pill may not be a problem. Taking several medications every day which each have a tiny amount of lactose can add up fast.

You can ask your pharmacist to check ingredients for you. Alternately, research each medication online if need be. You may be surprised at what's in those pills you have been taking all this time.

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