Long Island Regional Poison and

					Long Island Regional Poison and Drug Information Center
FYI
Volume 53 Issue 3 Summer 2009

Even though it is summer, many people may still suffer with their allergies. There are a variety of things that can trigger one’s allergies. Common causes are pet dander, cigarette smoke, and mold. For people that suffer from seasonal allergies the triggers are more likely to be different types of pollen from plants, weeds and trees. We’ve all been there before; you wake up one morning with a scratchy throat and a runny nose and run straight to the pharmacy. Well before you make your next trip, we would like to tell you about the different types of allergy medications available to avoid possibly overdosing on them. Antihistamines: This class of medications is most commonly used by patients suffering with allergies. They are used to reduce runny noses, sneezing, and itching of the nose/throat. There are two classes of antihistamines and although they both treat the same things, there are vast differences among them so it’s important to choose wisely. The first class of antihistamines include drugs such as chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist), cyproheptadine (Periactin), dexbrompheniramine (Drixoral), hydroxyzine (Atarax), promethazine (Phenergan) and the ever famous diphenhydramine (Benadryl). This particular class of antihistamines can be make you extremely sleepy and can cause urine retention and confusion. Thus these medicines should not be used in the elderly or men with enlarged prostates. This class of medications is best taken at bedtime. The second class of antihistamines is the non-drowsy formula, which has relatively less adverse effects. They usually don’t make you as tired as the first generation and can be conveniently taken once or twice a day. This class of medications includes acrivastine (Semprex), cetirizine (Zyrtec), desloratadine (Clarinex), fexofenadine (Allegra) and loratadine (Claritin). You should know that if you are suffering from allergic rhinitis you should be taking these medications daily and not just when you feel that you need it, you should not take two antihistamines together since it is not beneficial and would just increase the amount of side effects that you experience. Most patients feel better a week after they start taking this class of medication. In addition to the oral antihistamines there are also nasal antihistamines such as azelastine (Astelin) which is available by prescription only for patients with more severe allergies. There are antihistamine eye drops available by prescription that can be used for patients whose allergies affect their eyes. Intranasal Corticosteroids: This class of medications is available by prescription only for patients who suffer from nasal symptoms of allergies. These agents reduce inflammation of the nasal passages and relieve nasal symptoms from allergies.

These medications include beclomethasone (Beconase), budesonide (Rhinocort AQ), fluticasone (Flonase), flunisolide (Nasalide) and mometasone (Nasonex). In addition, there are steroids that can be used in the eyes for short-term symptomatic relief of allergies Decongestants: This class of medications works to decrease nasal congestion and fluid build up. They include agents such as phenylephrine (Neo-synephrine), naphazoline (Privine), tetrahydrozolin (Tyzine) and oxymetazoline (Afrin). These medications should be used only as needed for 3-5 days because long-term use can worsen some related symptoms. Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) is another common decongestant that is available at the pharmacy counter without a prescription as a single ingredient product or in combination products such as Claritin and Advil Cold and Sinus. People who have high blood pressure should avoid taking this medication and people who are sensitive to this medication should take it earlier on in the day since this medication may keep you awake. It is therefore important to know if the medication you are taking contains this ingredient. These are a just few of the common OTC and prescription medications that are used for allergy sufferers. If you feel these agents are not working for you, consult your doctor to prescribe other medications for you. As with all medications, it is important to consult your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new medications.

Dangerous Misconceptions About Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs 1. 2. 3. 4. OTC drugs work differently than prescription drugs. Medicine sold over-the-counter is completely safe and could not cause any side effects or toxicity. Reading the whole label is not really necessary. I know why I am taking it. If the recommended dose does not work, just take more. I can take the product as long and as often as I 'need' to. It's only important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about prescription drugs.

Did you know…….? The FDA has reformulated a lot of over the counter children’s products because parents and caretakers have accidentally overdosed their children on these medications….even some for allergies!

5. 6.

– There have been over 78,000 cases of overdoses from allergy medications in 2007 with the most occurring in children under the age of 6 – Of these overdoses almost 50,000 were unintentional and could have been avoided!

Produced in cooperation with Ms. Sheena Thomas, a St John’s University Pharm.D candidate


				
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