When can you take an antihistamine without a prescription?

In the event of minor pain or discomfort, it is normal to take, from time to time, some drug that can be purchased without a prescription (less and less), such as pain relievers, antacids or flu, but doctors and pharmacists agree in stating that self-medication should never be a general practice.

As explains the Spanish Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (@SEAIC_Alergy), there are different types of allergies that affect various organs, from those of a respiratory nature, such as rhinitis, to those whose symptoms are manifested in the eyes or on the skin, all without forgetting the allergies caused by the ingestion of a drug, a food or an insect bite. In all cases, the body’s response to an element that it considers foreign (allergen), causes it to generate a greater amount of histamine, a chemical substance that acts as a defense but, in excess, causes the usual symptoms of the most common respiratory allergies.

What precautions to take when taking a new antihistamine?

Trying to avoid the negative effects of excess histamine is the target of antihistamines that act by reducing their presence. Although many of these medications can be purchased without a prescription, it is essential have the medical advice or the advice of the pharmacist, because not all antihistamines are the same and, in addition, they can produce different reactions, depending on each person and the allergic process they are experiencing.

Older people, and even more so if suffer from a chronic illness that requires a certain pharmacological treatment, should get information and advice conveniently through the health professionals, before taking an antihistamine that they have not used before, even if they can be bought without a prescription.

If you frequently suffer episodes of allergic reactions, your doctor can advise you on the most appropriate antihistamine, which you should always have on hand in the event of a possible outbreak. You cannot take «any one» because you must be absolutely sure that it will not cause an adverse reaction.

It should be remembered that antihistamines can also have various side effects, from causing a certain degree of drowsiness or increased dryness in the mouth (quite common), to digestive problems.