The preferred and popular course of treatment for allergic reactions is through antihistamines. Various symptoms of allergies, are treated by medications of this category, for instance – sneezing, itchy or runny nose, watery eyes, itchy throat or skin, hives, swelling and itching due to insect bites or stings. In addition to the above, antihistamines are also used to treat other conditions, such as motion sickness, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia. As a result of its popularity and frequency of use, patients often ask this question – is it OK to take antihistamines every day? Here is a detailed look at this medication, including information that will offer answers to the above question.

What are the different types of antihistamines?

It is important to understand the different types of antihistamines. Essentially, there are two main categories – first-generation and second-generation antihistamines.

Antihistamines may have different effects on different individuals, and some people may experience drowsiness or other side effects even with second-generation antihistamines.

Mechanism of action of antihistamines

Antihistamines work by blocking the activity of histamine, a chemical released by the body during an allergic reaction. Histamine binds to specific receptors in the body, causing a variety of symptoms, such as itching, inflammation, and increased mucus production. Antihistamines work by binding to these receptors, blocking the binding of histamine, and thus preventing or reducing the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

There are two types of histamine receptors – H1 receptors and H2 receptors. H1 receptors are found throughout the body and are responsible for the symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as itching, swelling, and inflammation. H2 receptors are primarily found in the stomach and are responsible for the production of stomach acid.

First-generation antihistamines, bind to both H1 and H2 receptors and can cause sedation and other side effects. Second-generation antihistamines, are more selective towards H1 receptors and have fewer side effects, such as drowsiness.

Possible side effects of antihistamines

Antihistamines, like all medications, have potential side effects. Specific undesirable outcomes may vary depending on the type of antihistamine and the individual on the medication. Commonly reported possible side effects of antihistamines include:

Drug interactions of antihistamines

Antihistamines may interact with other medications, supplements, and substances, impacting effectiveness and also increase the risk of side effects. Common drug interactions of antihistamines include the following:

The ideal dosage of antihistamines

The ideal dosage of antihistamines varies depending on the type of antihistamine, the individual on the medication, and the condition being treated.

For first-generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, the usual adult dose is 25-50 mg once in 4-6 hours as required, subject to a maximum of 300 mg per day. However, it may be necessary for certain patients to intake lower doses – the elderly or patients with liver or kidney disease.

For second-generation antihistamines, such as loratadine or cetirizine, the usual adult dose is 10 mg once daily. For fexofenadine, the usual adult dose is 180 mg once daily.

At higher doses or when combined with other medications or substances, antihistamines may cause drowsiness. Therefore, it’s important to take antihistamines as directed by the healthcare provider and to ensure that the maximum recommended dosage is never exceeded.

Is it OK to take antihistamines every day?

It is now time to answer the above question. Intake of antihistamines daily depends on the type of antihistamine and the reason for use of the medication. First-generation antihistamines, are generally not recommended for daily use. Second-generation antihistamines, are generally considered safe for daily use, and are often used to manage chronic allergies or hives.

Patients taking antihistamines every day, are to consult healthcare providers about symptoms and treatment plans, to ensure that the dosage and frequency of the medication is appropriate. It may also be necessary to follow precautions, such as avoiding allergens or use other medications or treatments, to manage symptoms.

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