What is an antihistamine? - Telfast Australia
Return to articles

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Related Articles

Allergy treatment

Today, there are many allergy and hayfever medications that are effective at reducing the severity of your hayfever allergy symptoms….

Learn More

Find a Stockist

For your nearest Telfast stockist, search by entering your location:

Purchase now from selected retailers

Discount Drug Stores logo Coles

The liability of the Company or of SANOFI shall not be incurred by a third party site that can be accessed via the Site. We do not have any way of controlling the content of such third party sites which remain entirely independent of the Company. Moreover, the existence of a link between the Site and a third party site does not under any circumstances mean that the Company approves the content of that site in any way whatsoever and in particular the use that may be made of it.

Contact Us

If you’d like to know which product might be suitable for your needs, or if you have questions relating to any of our products, please fill in the form below. We’d love to hear from you. To speak with a team member or report an adverse event, please call 1800 818 806 within Australia.

Thank you for your submission. A representative will be in contact shortly.