Spring has already arrived in the northern hemisphere and with it allergies. This year it is more important than ever that you know how to differentiate if what you have is COVID-19 or your spring allergy, but for that you must first solve a problem: Are you taking your antihistamines the right way?
Many people will immediately answer that yes, they are taking their allergy medication correctly. However, most people don’t take their antihistamines well, she notes. Derek Chu, an allergy expert at McMaster University in a new article published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
“People have to rethink what allergy drugs they have in their medicine cabinets, what drugs hospitals have and what policy makers recommend. We must spread the message, “said the expert in a press release.
“There are new, modern second-generation antihistamines that are potent, specific, fast-acting, and proven safe that everyone should use to treat allergic rhinitis and hives,” says Gordon Sussman, co-author and professor of medicine at the School of Medicine. Temerty Medicine from the University of Toronto.
The 5 keys about your allergy pills
Antihistamines are among the most misused medications in the world
So am I taking my antihistamines wrong? Everything will depend on whether you have read the prospectus; if you know if your antihistamine is first or second generation and if you take your allergy medication with food or drink (some work worse if you have taken something or are going to eat shortly). In addition, it is important to know this data that Chu and Sussman’s team have collected for their article.
Allergy pills can be used for allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever) and hives outbreaks, “But not for asthma, eczema, cough or insomnia”, they point out. In fact, the authors of the article point out that antihistamines “are among the most used and wrong drugs in the world.”
We also know that there are two types of antihistamines. The first generation are, for example, ifenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, or hydroxyzine. These can cause “drowsiness and affect psychomotor or cognitive functions, including school performance.” What’s more, ttake more medication than recommended (overdose) it can cause death “And they are potentially dangerous for both the young and the old,” Chu and Sussman say in their article.
Photo by Teslariu Mihai on Unsplash
And this is where the latest generation antihistamines come in, such as bilastine, cetirizine, desloratadine, fexofenadine, loratadine, rupatadine or ebastine. These antihistamines are preferable over first-generation ones for several reasons. The first is that “they are safer,” say the authors of the article. In addition, they have fewer side effects, only 4% feel drowsy compared to 28% of those who use first-generation antihistamines.
In addition, the effects of the second generation are more durable (12-24 hours versus 4-6 hours) and they are faster-acting medications than the previous ones (50 minutes versus 80). «The World Health Organization (WHO) replaced chlorpheniramine with loratadine on its essential drugs list in 2013 for these reasons, “say Chu and Sussman.
Fortunately, next-generation antihistamines “are safer, just as affordable, and as effective as first-generation ones,” the authors say.
Anaphylactic reactions and use in pregnant women
However, despite doing its job against allergies very well, it must be borne in mind that they do not serve to stop an anaphylactic reaction. That is, the appropriate medication for these cases is the epinephrine. Although oral antihistamines can be used in conjunction with epinephrine, they are not a substitute. This is very important to take into account, in case you are allergic or share your life with a person with an allergy.
Antihistamines alone don’t stop anaphylactic reactionto
Finally, the authors of this article point out that “antihistamines in standard doses do not harm the fetus during pregnancy and can be used during lactation.” And that “they are also safe for children.” Nevertheless, If you have any questions, it is best to go to the family doctor or allergist.
Allergy or COVID-19?
This year it is essential to learn to differentiate when we are faced with an allergy process, because its symptoms can be confused with those of COVID-19. For this reason, in addition to take antihistamines well you have to know the difference between spring allergy and COVID-19.
On the one hand we know that allergies are a exaggerated immune system response to substances that are actually harmless to us. While COVID-19 is a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Because the symptoms of COVID-19 and spring allergy can be very similar – such as nasal congestion – there are three of them to pay attention to. If they appear fever, cough, and shortness of breath you have to go to the doctor as soon as possible. In the event that the person presents other symptoms that can be both of one thing and the other, such as loss of smell (anosmia), it is also important to consult a specialist, as it is a key symptom for detecting COVID-19. And more if you have had contact with a person with the disease.
In short, when in doubt it is always better to consult a doctor. But first we will have to try see if symptoms go away by taking antihistamines well, it can be key to avoid saturating primary care and hospital emergencies.