In this article we're going to discuss the possible dangers and side effects of antihistamines and what people should be aware of when taking antihistamines to treat their allergies.
For the most part, antihistamines are safe. Having said that, antihistamines can have side effects which, if the antihistamine is not properly administered, can be serious.
The truth is, all medications have side effects. Some are mild, as in the case of an aspirin, unless you have stomach ulcers or aspirin sensitivity and others are more serious such as the side effects from chemotherapy, but for the most part, antihistamine side effects are fairly mild. The newest antihistamines are probably about the safest medications that there are. But there are differences between the various antihistamines and their side effects.
The older antihistamines have the most serious side effects. Because technology wasn't where it is now, older antihistamines can make you very sleepy, even to the point of falling asleep behind the wheel of a car. The harsh truth is, antihistamines have the same effect on your brain as alcohol. If you've been keeping up with the latest news you'll notice that people seem to be driving around in a drug induced haze. This is becoming a very serious problem in itself as there are no laws against driving while under the influence of prescription medication. That is most likely going to change very soon. According to experts, there is no doubt in their mind that older antihistamines can cause traffic accidents.
But that isn't where the effect of older antihistamines ends. They also affect learning and exam performance. Studies show that children with allergies who go to school after taking an antihistamine have poorer test scores than children who are not on antihistamines.
Another problem with older antihistamines is that one of the side effects is that people who use them sometimes have difficulty in passing water or have increased pressure in their eyes. These symptoms, however, are very rare.
With the newer antihistamines, most, if not all of these side effects are a thing of the past. We have certainly come a long way. Therefore it is no longer necessary to use the older antihistamines.
Many people ask, how do we know the newer antihistamines are better? Actually, there are studies that clinically show that they are.
For starters, road safety studies were done. Two control groups were used. The one group was given older antihistamines and the other group was given the newer improved antihistamines. The results were staggering. The reaction time of the old antihistamine group was slower, their turning was more erratic, their attention was poor and in general they did not drive as skilfully. In some cases their driving was so bad and so dangerous that the test itself had to be stopped.
Another study was done on children going to school. Two control groups were again set up. The group that was given the older antihistamines had much lower test scores, sometimes as much as 20 to 30 points lower. Many of the students couldn't even finish their exams.
The only downside of the newer antihistamines, and for that matter any treatment of this sort for allergies, is that they are not a cure and over time a person can build up a resistance to a particular antihistamine where it no longer works. A new one then has to be given. The average length of time that a person can take a particular antihistamine before they have to move on to a new one is between 3 and 6 months.