The Allergy Medication and Alzheimer’s Connection

over the counter allergy medicationSince researchers at the University of Washington first released their findings on side-effects of some common medications, people have had many questions about the relationship between common over the counter allergy  medication and dementia, pneumonia, and other side effects.

Initial Anticholinergic Study

The initial study linked long-term high dose of a common class of antihistamine, antidepressant and bladder control medication to serious, irreversible side effects such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Allergy Medication Connection

Anticholinergic medications work by suppressing the action of acetycholine in the body and brain.  This is a neurotransmitter.  That means it transmits messages to the brain.  Two over-the-counter allergy medications fall into this category:

  • Diphenhydramine (Bendryl)
  • Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)

Diphenhydramine is also a common ingredient in over-the-counter sleep medications (like Tylenol PM, Advil PM, etc.).

Other Medications in This Class

Antihistamines were not the only medications identified.  The antidepressant doxepin and the bladder control medication oxybutynin are also in this class. Sertraline (marketed as Zoloft) is included in the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This class of drugs is used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Read more here:

 Allergy Medication Alternatives

If you are still taking the older generation allergy medications, look at some of the newer offerings.  Loratadine  (Claritin, Alavert) is highly effective for many people with seasonal or indoor allergies.  The inhaled corticosteroids such as Flonase can provide relief when oral medication does not.

Allergy Control without Allergy Medication

allergy-wordsNot only should you talk to your doctor about your medication, you should also talk about other measures you can take to relieve your symptoms without medication.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, using a nasal rinse or neti pot with a saline solution can provide relief.

If you are allergic to dust, make sure you wash sheets regularly and use allergy mattress covers and pillow covers.

Til Next Time!


How to Treat Your Allergy Symptoms Part 1

For those of us that have allergies, there are several options we have to help us deal with them. Today we are going to talk about how to treat your allergy symptoms with conventional treatments.

When we cannot adequately avoid airborne allergens, our symptoms often can be controlled with medication. Effective medications that can be prescribed by a doctor include antihistamines and topical nasal steroids either of which can be used alone or in combination.

Many over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines and decongestants are effective and available at your local Walmart, CVS, or Walgreens. Be prepared to show your ID.Treat Your Allergy Symptoms with Topical Nasal Spray

How to Treat Your Allergy Symptoms with Antihistamines

As the name indicates, an antihistamine counters the effects of histamine, which is released by the mast cells in the body’s tissues and contributes to allergy symptoms. For many years, antihistamines have proven useful in relieving sneezing and itching in the nose, throat, and eyes, and in reducing nasal swelling and drainage. Antihistamines will not help with congestion.  To relieve congestion, a decongestant is needed.

Many people who take antihistamine experience some distressing side effects: drowsiness and loss of alertness and coordination. In children, such reactions can be misinterpreted as behavior problems.

During the last few years, however, antihistamines that cause fewer of these side effects have become available by prescription and over the counter. These non-sedating antihistamines are as effective as other antihistamines in preventing histamine-induced symptoms but do so without causing sleepiness.

Some of these non-sedating antihistamines, however, can have serious side effects, particularly if they are taken with certain other drugs.

It is not recommended that people with glaucoma or high blood pressure take certain antihistamines. Always let your doctor know what other medications you are taking.

How to Treat Your Allergy Symptoms with Topical Nasal Sprays

A topical nasal corticosteroid may be prescribed, especially for seasonal allergies.  This medication should not be confused with anabolic steroids, which are sometimes used by athletes to enlarge muscle mass and can have serious side effects.

Topical nasal corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that stop allergic reactions. In addition to other beneficial actions, they reduce the number of mast cells in the nose and reduce mucus secretion and nasal swelling.

The combination of antihistamines and nasal steroids is a very effective way to treat allergy symptoms, especially in people with moderate or severe allergic rhinitis. Although topical nasal steroids can have side effects, they are safe when used at recommended doses. Some of the newer agents are even safer than older ones.

Up Next – Treatment Options Part 2

Till next time

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Back to School Part 2 – When Good Kids Get A Bad Cold

If you think it is hard to drive away and leave your son or daughter at college for the first time, just wait until you get home.  You will walk inside your house and no matter how many people live there it will feel empty. 

It is especially empty if it is your last child to leave home.  Suddenly the house feels enormous and you feel small.  You feel miserable and want to cry. 

If you think you feel bad then, just wait until they call you sick with their first away-from-home really bad cold.  Now you really feel bad.

When your kids were small and had a cold, you babied them.  Ran vaporizers to help them breathe, sponged them off the reduce their fever, read them stories, and feed them chicken soup. 

That very first cold after moving away from college will be as miserable for you as it is for your child.  Since you can’t be there to take care of them, plan in advance so that have everything on hand to take care of themselves.  Caring for your own cold is a part of growing up when you think about it.

Bad Cold Emergency Kit

So, pack up an emergency kit.  Now the cold emergency kit is a little different than your standard emergency kit. It doesn’t have bandages or antibiotic creams. Those are important items and should be in the standard emergency kit, but what I am talking about is the Cold Emergency Kit. 

So, pack them in a small box that they can store out of the way of heat and sunlight.  In it put what they will need to tend to their own cold.  Start with a small box of tissue.  If you have a preferred brand or type of cold medicine, make sure it is in the kit along with your own handwritten note on how to use it. 

For example, my daughter has always been small for her age, so I never gave her the adult dose of any over-the-counter medication the first time around.  Now, if she bought a box of cold medicine on her own and didn’t know this, she might take the recommended 2 pills instead of 1.  That is why it is important that you communicate this type of information in writing in the emergency kit so if they are self-medicating for the first time they know these things. 

Also, depending on the state where they are going to school, many of the “D” formulas require a signature and an in-state driver’s license for the purchase of formulas that contain pseudoephedrine.  Keep this in mind if your child is attending college in another state! 

I also think it is a good idea to include cough drops or throat lozenges for that sore throat (bonus points if you get the ones with Vitamin C) and a microwaveable “cup o soup” in the flavor your kid prefers and a thermometer. 

The thermometer is important because they need to know when they have a fever that is high enough to warrant the attention of the school’s Health Office. Also, if your kid has allergies, they need to know the difference between cold symptoms and allergy symptoms.

That thermometer comes in handy when determining the two because allergies don’t cause any elevation in body temperature. Tuck in a little love note at the bottom that assures them that a cold runs for 7 to 10 days and you can’t cure it, but they can focus their efforts on relieving symptoms.

You can’t be there with them while they are going through that first cold and as hard as it is on you, it’s an important step in their growth as truly independent adults.

Til Next Time!