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April 15, 2019

Antihistamines and tips to treat allergy symptoms

Do you suffer from allergic rhinitis? Whether you are troubled by seasonal or perennial (not associated with specific time of year) allergies, you probably just want to find ways to prevent, relieve and, in a perfect world, eliminate your symptoms!

Types of allergies and prevention measures

To prevent allergy symptoms, you need to avoid contact with your allergens, in other words, the substances that trigger your allergic reaction. Here are a few tips to reduce the intensity of your symptoms.  

Dust mites and dust Pollen from trees, grasses and plants Indoor and outdoor moulds Pets
Get rid of furniture or other items that collect dust (stuffed chairs and carpets) Keep doors and windows closed Keep doors and windows closed for two days after a heavy rainfall Get rid of the pet (the only permanent solution)
Use plastic mattress covers Avoid mowing the lawn and do not go to places where your allergen can be found (parks, woods) Rid your lawn of dead leaves, grass clippings and other plant debris If you decide to keep your pet, place the litter in a low-traffic area away from air vents
Wash floors frequently Do not dry your clothes on the line Remove indoor plants Bathe your pet every week
Reduce the humidity level Wear sunglasses when outdoors Make sure there are no water leaks in your home Keep pets out of the bedrooms
Install a high-performance air filter Use air conditioning in your home and car Keep the humidity level in your home at no more than 40 to 45% Install a high-performance air filter

Medication for allergic rhinitis

Antihistamines are a godsend for many people with year-round or seasonal allergic rhinitis. They block the mechanism that triggers the allergic response (the release of histamine) and reduce allergy symptoms as a whole. They generally alleviate sneezing, itching, a runny nose and teary, prickly eyes, among other symptoms.

What is the difference between the first, second and third generations of over-the-counter antihistamines?

  • First-generation antihistamines were the first to be introduced on the market. They include chlorphenamine (Chlor-Tripolon®), diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) and triprolidine (Actifed®). They are known to cause drowsiness, dry mouth and dry eyes.
  • Second-generation antihistamines include cetirizine (Reactine®), fexofenadine (Allegra®) and loratadine (Claritin®) and are effective in alleviating allergy symptoms.

Some consider desloratadine (Aerius®) to be part of a new, third generation of antihistamines. In terms of effectiveness, they compare well with second-generation products. Again like their immediate predecessor, these latest antihistamines cause less drowsiness than their first-generation counterparts.

For optimal results, it is best to take antihistamines every day during the entire allergy period. If you wish to combine it with a decongestant to relieve your stuffy nose, make sure the antihistamine you use does not already contain one. (Some products combine an antihistamine and a decongestant, and you must avoid taking a double dose).

Warning: Decongestants are not suitable for everyone and certain precautions must be taken when using them. Always talk to your family pharmacist before taking an over-the-counter product to ease your seasonal allergy symptoms.

If over-the-counter products do not ease your allergy symptoms, your doctor can recommend other prescription medications.

Curing allergies with desensitization

Desensitization, or specific immunotherapy, is the only cure for allergies. Conducted under the supervision of a medical specialist (an allergist), it involves injections of allergenic extracts in gradually increasing amounts prepared on the basis of the person’s allergy profile.

Perseverance is needed when undergoing this treatment: it lasts three to five years and requires frequent visits to the doctor’s office. But patience has its rewards. In fact, 60 to 80 percent of people who follow a desensitization treatment to completion find that their seasonal allergies are significantly reduced or disappear altogether. In addition, the benefits are often noted as early as the first year of treatment.

Pharmacy services

You may need to try a few products before you find the antihistamine that will work best for you. At any time, feel free to ask your family pharmacists for advice. They are always available to help you make the right choice.

They can also prescribe* medications for certain minor health problems, including allergic rhinitis, when the treatment and diagnosis have already been established. A consultation will be required so the pharmacist can make sure you meet the prescribing criteria.

To avail yourself of this service, you may need to book an appointment with your family pharmacist. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more details. Some Uniprix-affiliated pharmacies also offer an online appointment booking service. To locate the store nearest you providing this service, click here.

*Certain conditions must be respected. Fees may apply. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more information. Pharmacists alone are responsible for the practice of pharmacy. They offer related services only on behalf of pharmacist-owners.

Services in pharmacy are the sole responsibility of pharmacist-owners. Only pharmacists are responsible for pharmacy practice. They only provide related services acting under a pharmacist-owner's name.

The Website deals with health-related topics. The information presented has been validated by experts and is accurate at the time of posting. In no way does it replace the opinion of a health care professional. Uniprix Inc. and its affiliated pharmacists accept no liability whatsoever in connection with the information provided on this Website.