Understanding Antihistamines: How They Work, Types & Uses

Histamines live in our body’s mast cells and play a crucial role in our inflammatory response. They are released when the body comes into contact with an allergen we are particularly sensitive to, boosting blood flow to the affected area of our body, such as the nasal passages.1 Antihistamines work to reverse this effect, but there are so many options available today it may be difficult to pick one. We’ll explore what antihistamines are, the symptoms they are intended to treat, and the most common antihistamines for allergies available.  

What Are Antihistamines?

Antihistamines are a class of drugs designed to treat common symptoms of allergies, such as coughing, sneezing, and watery eyes. They are typically used by people who have allergies to pollen, dander, and other allergens. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are two major subtypes of antihistamines.2 The first subtype is called H-1 receptor antagonists or H-1 blockers, which is used to treat allergy symptoms. They work by physically blocking the H1 receptors and stopping the histamine from reaching its target, thus preventing your body's reaction to allergens.3 The second subtype is called H-2 receptor antagonists or H-2 blockers. These are used to treat gastrointestinal conditions.

What Symptoms Do They Treat?   

When your body overreacts to an allergen and releases too much histamine, a variety of undesirable symptoms can occur. Antihistamines are designed to reduce the following symptoms:
  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Itchy, watery, bloodshot eyes 
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth, or throat
  • Post-nasal drip

Common Types of Antihistamines   

There are many antihistamines on the market today, available in capsules or in liquid form. Some of these antihistamines are available by prescription only, like the oral medication Clarinex, the nasal spray Astelin, and the eyedrops Optivar. Other antihistamines are available over the counter such as Sudafed and Zyrtec.

Over-the-Counter Antihistamines

There are two generations of OTC antihistamines, with a number of undesirable side effects linked to many of them. The first generation of drugs was first approved by the FDA in the 1930’s and targeted histamine receptors in the brain and spinal cord by crossing the blood-brain barrier. Side effects linked to these drugs include drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, headaches, rapid heart rate, and constipation.4 Later allergy medications, such as Zyrtec and Sudafed, have been linked to such side effects as nausea, stomach pain, sore throat, and insomnia due to active chemical ingredients cetirizine and pseudoephedrine.5 
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There are also homeopathic alternatives to common OTC antihistamines, which are also available without a prescription because there are no harsh chemicals or harmful side effects and they can potentially provide the same results as other popular antihistamines without the drowsiness or jitteriness. These include Brillia Health’s products. 

Antihistamines in Brillia Health 

Brillia Health offers a safe and targeted approach to allergy relief, using antibodies to histamine as an active ingredient and zero harsh chemicals. Registered with the FDA as Lapine Histamine Immune Globulin, this antibody targets and binds to histamine in the body and impedes their ability to cause inflammation, which is notorious for causing allergy symptoms like nasal congestion, cough, and sneezing. Both of Brillia Health’s homeopathic formulations, Cold-Flu Recovery and Cough Control, use this antibody science to reduce allergy symptoms and build up the immune system without harmful side effects, drowsiness, or contraindications. In fact, the formulations are so safe that they can be taken together, in conjunction with other medications, and even by children.  If you are struggling with multiple symptoms like congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and post-nasal drip, take Brillia Cold & Flu Recovery and opt for Cough Control if you’re battling a dry cough or chest tightness. Find out more about how Brillia Health products work
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Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.
References: 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4497677/, 2https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/21223-antihistamines, 3https://patient.info/allergies-blood-immune/allergies/antihistamines, 4https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/21223-antihistamines, 5https://www.rxlist.com/zyrtec-d-side-effects-drug-center.htm

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