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- What are oral antihistamines?
- What are examples of oral antihistamines available in the US?
- What are the side effects of oral antihistamines?
- What drugs interact with oral antihistamines?
- What formulations of oral antihistamines are available?
- What about taking oral antihistamines during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
What are the side effects of oral antihistamines?
First generation antihistamines are used less often to treat allergies because they cause significant sedation. First generation antihistamines also should be used cautiously in older adults as they are more susceptible to their anticholingeric side effects including
- dry mouth,
- decreased tear production,
- urinary retention (trouble urinating),
- blurred vision,
- constipation, and
Due to their significant side effect profile, special precautions should be used in patients with:
- Problems passing urine or men with prostate problems
- Thyroid disorders
- High blood pressure
Second generation antihistamines are less sedating than their first generation counterparts. Cetirizine can be sedating for some patients at normal recommended doses while sedation seems to only be a concern with loratadine at higher than normally recommended doses. Fexofenadine is the least sedating.
Side effects common to all antihistamines include:
What drugs interact with oral antihistamines?
Antihistamines may cause drowsiness. Taking antihistamines with other medicines that also are sedating may cause profound drowsiness. Examples include:
- Sleeping pills
- Seizure medications
- Some antidepressants (especially tricyclic antidepressants)
- Muscle relaxants
- Prescription narcotic pain medications
- Other antihistamines
- MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), a class of medications used to treat mood disorders, may prolong or intensify the anticholinergic side effects of antihistamines. Generally, first generation antihistamines should not be used within two weeks of using a MAOI.
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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