Over the Counter Allergy Medication Information

More and more formulas for allergy control are available without a over the counter allergy medicationprescription. Gone are the days when you could use any antihistamine you liked as long as it was Benadryl®. With so many options, we frequently get lots of questions about over the counter allergy medication. We aren’t pharmacists, but here are a few things we do know.

 Over the Counter Allergy Medication Side Effects

Any medication, whether prescribed or taken over the counter, can have possible side effects. All you have to do is watch any drug ad on TV and you will hear a list of side effects that can sound worse than the actual treatment. Over the counter allergy medication can bring relief, but it can also bring side effects such as:

  • Blurry Vision – Can be caused by older style antihistamines containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or newer ones with loratadine (Allegra, Claritin)
  • Constipation – This is a pretty common side effect of over the counter allergy medications. Antichlogenerics (Zyrtec Allegra, Claritin) and antihistamines (Claritin, Allegra and Benadryl) can both cause this problem. Be sure to drink plenty of water when you take these medications.
  • High Blood Pressure – Hypertension can be caused by oral decongestants taken to relieve nasal allergy symptoms. People taking medication for high blood pressure should talk to their doctor BEFORE taking any oral decongestant or decongenstant/antihistamine combination) If the medication name end in “-D” it probably contains a decongestant (Claritin-D, Aleve Cold & Sinus-D)
  • Nose Bleeds – While rare, these can be caused by use of nasal corticosteroids and nasal anticholinergics. If you spray it in your nose, it can cause a nose bleed.
  • Sleepiness – This is the original antihistamine side effect. Diphenhydramine causes sleepiness, that is why they add to so many of those “PM” formula pain relievers. Look for the “nondrowsy” formula of your favorite OTC medication.
  • Upset stomach – Not a common side effect, but nasal corticosteroids can cause nausea and vomiting. Antihistamines can cause stomach problems such as nausea or constipation.
  • Weight gain – In August 2010, researchers from Yale University published a study in the journal Obesity finding that people who took antihistamines regularly were heavier than people who didn’t take them at all. The study’s authors used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005–2006 to compare the body weight of 867 adults and their prescription antihistamine use. The two drugs most common in the study were cetirizine, now sold over-the-counter as Zyrtec, and fexofenadine, also now sold over-the-counter as Allegra
 Effect of Over the Counter Allergy Medications on Drug Tests

over the counter allergy medicationYou may not realize it until it to so late, but your over the counter allergy medication can case the tests for illegal results to return inaccurate results. Allergy medicines containing antihistamines and decongestants can cause a false positive result for amphetamine. If your OTC allergy or cold relief contains ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, propylephedrine, phenylephrine or desoxyephedrine you may get a false positive for amphetamine. This is also true for over the counter nasal sprays such as the Vicks inhaler, or Afrin nasal spray.

If you take over the counter asthma medications such as Marax, Bronkaid tablets, Primatine Tablets you may also have a false positive for amphetamine.

If your allergies cause you to have a headache and you take Advil or Motrin you might also get a false positive for marijuana.

Before taking any drug test, be sure to disclose ALL over the counter medications you have taken in the last several weeks.

 Will Over the Counter Allergy Medication Help if It Isn’t Allergy?

Lots of people wonder if they should take over the counter allergy medication for their symptoms or if they should use something else. Here are a few guidelines:

Coughs – If the source of your cough is allergic post nasal drop then an antihistamine such as loratadine or fexofenadine may help. Stay away from diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine as they can make post nasal symptoms worse.

Eczema – Older antihistamines such as diphenhydramine may help with itching, but they will not heal the skin. Moisturizers can help soothe the skin and hydrocortisone can reduce inflammation. Those are your better options than looking to your oral antihistamine

Hives – Over the counter antihistamines may bring relief for hives. When taken on a regular basis, they can prevent hives from forming. If you suffer from chronic hives, it is best to consult with your physician to determine the cause of the hives. This is one of those times that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Mosquito bites – Allergy medication is only going to help if you are allergic to the proteins in the mosquito saliva. The typical mosquito bite reaction is a result of the anti-coagulant in the saliva. You can put ice on the bite to reduce swelling and itching. If you develop hives or intense itching then a topical corticosteroid or oral antihistamine may help.

If you have questions about your over the counter medications, don’t hesitate to talk to the pharmacist at the local drug store. They are a great resource and they want to help; even if you aren’t buying prescription medication.


Enjoy a Happy and Healthy Summer Vacation

Summer has officially started and so have the thoughts of summer vacation. It conjures up visions of relaxation, sports, sunny days spent on a sandy beach or a mountain trail.

Summer Vacation!
Summer Vacation!

For individuals and families with allergies and asthma though, it means extra thought and preparation before letting the “good times roll”

As we head full tilt into summer here are some common sense but commonly missed suggestions for healthy vacation.

Medications – Make a detailed list of any medications showing prescription refill numbers, prescribing doctor, phone number and dosage. Make sure you pack your medications in a carry-on bag just in case the airline happens to misplace your checked bags. One would think that could not happen with what they charge for checking a bag these days but it does.

Also make sure to pack an extra Epipen in case someone has an allergic reaction to an insect sting or something they ate. Another good thing to pack is a topical hydrocortisone cream.

Essential Gear – If someone has asthma and is using a peak flow meter be sure to bring it and their chart to record results. I don’t need to tell you not forget the nebulizer but if you are travelling overseas don’t forget the electrical converter. We have heard from many customers over the years they could not use their nebulizer because of power problems. For people who are camping you can either use a power converter that hooks into your car or buy a portable one that runs on batteries.

To protect yourself from dust mites it may be wise to pack your own allergy proof pillow and mattress covers. Many of our customers use the king size fitted mattress covers and king size pillow encasing the when I travel.  They are easy to use and the king size covers fit any bed.

Insurance – Don’t forget to check your insurance policy to make sure you’re covered in the area that you’re traveling. Way too many people get a big surprise if they run into a problem and need to go to a clinic or emergency room.

Sensible Behavior – During the hot summer months people with allergies and asthma should drink plenty of fluids especially water.  Try to avoid exposure to cigarette smoke whenever possible. Make sure you request a hotel room that is non-smoking and mold free.  If you have food allergies call ahead order special meal on the airplane or better yet pack your own snacks. When eating out make sure you let your server know you have allergies.

Just because you have allergies does not mean you cannot have a great summer vacation. You just need to do a bit more planning.

Can You Be Allergic to Mosquitoes Bites

Mosquitoes – Can You Be Allergic To Their BitesWe all read about the West Nile Virus breakout in Texas, 43 people died and 510 cases of neuroinvasive West Nile, considered the most serious form of the illness were recorded. We were real careful when we were in Dallas that year.

Thankfully the majority people bitten never get sick on in these extreme cases die. They just itch and scratch like crazy for a few hours. Turns out some people are actually allergic to mosquito’s bites. Their immune system is reacting to the proteins in the mosquito’s saliva just like other peoples do to pollen, molds and pet dander.

Reactions can include skin blisters, hives, bruising and swelling that can last more than a week. In rare situations, some people may experience anaphylaxis or worsening of asthma symptoms after being bitten being bitten by mosquitoes.

We live in South Florida and love to be outside so we are not going to let the mosquitoes stop us. We just take certain steps to limit their ability to munch on us. Even if you are not allergic to mosquitoes, it’s still not good to let them chew on you.

  • Don’t stay outside at dusk because that is when they are the most active.
  • Wear long sleeve shirts, pants and tennis shoes when outside especially when doing yard work. We get attacked when ever we start to trim the bushes. Less skin means fewer places for them to bite.
  • While we are not fans of insect repellent you do need to use it. By wearing protective clothing you don’t have to get as much n your skin. Spray it on your clothes, hands and neck.
  • Don’t wear cologne or perfumes. It attracts them.
  • Dump the standing water. We get water in flower pots, buckets, bird baths, trash cans, toys, etc. If you capture rain water for irrigation use a closed system that keep the mosquitoes from being able to lay their eggs.

Mosquitoes are pretty much everywhere and you will end up getting bitten. They key is to limit how many times.

Till next time