Take a look at our newest article: The Best OTC Allergy Medicine!
Read about of each and every one of the over the counter antihistamines on the market. We compare every medication to find you the best over the counter allergy medicine for your symptoms!
Here is an excerpt from our article:
Best OTC Allergy Medicine
Antihistamine medications block histamine from binding to receptors that are located all around the body. Histamine plays a central role in the allergic response. When histamine is released, it has a wide range of effects including:
Vasodilation (dilation of the blood vessels) – Vasodilation causes the vast majority of the nasal symptoms you experience. Most commonly you become extremely congested but a runny nose is possible as well.
Cardiac effects – Something we are not usually as aware of when our allergies hit us, but histamine influences both how hard our heart contracts and how fast it pumps.
Contraction of Smooth Muscle – Smooth muscle is found everywhere in the body including in our airways. Histamine release causes the symptoms of wheezing and coughing.
Itching – Histamine release also causes itching and redness. The mechanism behind this response is somewhat complicated, but it involves increasing the permeability of small vessels and the separation of skin cells.
First Generation Over The Counter Antihistamines
Antihistamines are the most common treatment for allergy symptoms resulting from allergic rhinitis, also known as allergic inflammation of the nasal airways. Allergic rhinitis can affect people either seasonally, known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, or all year round, known as perennial allergic rhinitis. It has been reported that over 30% of adults and over 40% of children will be affected by allergy symptoms. The most common symptoms that patients complain of are sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes as well as hives in more severe cases. Although not completely understood why, the symptoms tend to be worse in the evening which can lead to troubled and restless sleep. Antihistamines taken by mouth are considered the best therapy for allergic rhinitis symptoms and are usually very effective. Most antihistamines were at one point available only via a prescription but luckily, a vast majority of them are now available over the counter. In addition in their use for allergy symptoms, antihistamines are a common medication for insomnia. We will discuss each antihistamine in detail, but first, let us simply list all of the available over the counter antihistamines based on their generation. As a general rule of thumb, the first generation antihistamines have been on the market a longest amount of time, last about 4-6 hours and cause sedation. The second generation over the counter antihistamines are newer, last about 24 hours and cause minimal to no sedation.