What is an antihistamine? - Telfast Australia
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What is an antihistamine?

Published on October 17, 2018

What is an antihistamine?

Antihistamines are used by allergy sufferers to help relieve hayfever allergy symptoms and also to prevent allergy symptoms from occurring. Antihistamines are available on prescription or over the counter without a prescription from a pharmacy or supermarket.

WHAT TYPES OF ANTIHISTAMINES ARE AVAILABLE?

Two types of antihistamines are used for allergies. They are known as first-generation antihistamines and second-generation antihistamines. First generation antihistamines commonly have the side effect of drowsiness whereas second generation antihistamines do not. This can affect your ability to operate machinery, drive your car and think clearly. Alcohol can also increase the drowsiness effect. Some people may use these medicines for the drowsiness effect, particularly where allergic symptoms such as runny or congested nose affects sleep. Second-generation antihistamines are less likely to cause the side effect of drowsiness.

WHY ARE ANTIHISTAMINES USED?

Antihistamines are used to assist with managing a number of allergic health conditions. Antihistamines can’t cure allergic conditions but they do provide much needed relief from symptoms. The symptoms from allergies can have a huge impact on the quality of life for sufferers, particularly if they are persistent or recurring. Antihistamines are commonly used to help manage the symptoms of:

  1. Hayfever – this common allergic condition can cause sneezing, runny nose, inflammation of nose and eyes, and itching of eyes, nose and throat.
  2. Allergic rhinitis – allergic reaction to substances, which causes inflammation of the nose, for example dust mites.
  3. Allergic skin conditions – such as eczema, rashes, hives (urticaria) and generalised itching (pruritus).
  4. Allergic conjunctivitis – inflammation of the eyes, red, itchy and watery eyes.
  5. Bites and stings – if there is an allergic reaction symptoms of raised circular wheals that may or may not be itchy can appear.
  6. Food allergies – for mild reactions of hives, runny nose, itchy nose and mouth. More severe reactions, known as anaphylaxis require emergency treatment.

HOW DO ANTIHISTAMINES WORK?

As the name suggests, antihistamines work by stopping the effects of histamine. Histamine is a chemical substance released by the body’s immune system as a response to allergy. When histamine is released, this starts a cascade of inflammatory reactions such as swelling of small blood vessels. Histamine is generally very helpful, however in allergic reactions there may be too much histamine released which leads to a number of symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes and swelling.

HOW DO I CHOOSE AN ANTIHISTAMINE?

Your doctor or pharmacist may advise a particular antihistamine depending on the cause of your allergy. One of the most common antihistamine brands used by allergy sufferers is Telfast, which provides fast, non-drowsy relief from hayfever allergy symptoms. If you suffer from hayfever allergy click here to find a Telfast product appropriate for you.

Learn about which Telfast product may be appropriate for you.

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