Do Allergy Medications Make Your Allergies Worse?

May 5, 2020



This is the magical time of the year when flowers bloom and trees leaf and billions of pollen grains take flight in an attempt to find another flower. They also trigger an immune reaction that we call seasonal allergies. About 25 million Americans get them and many of those people take some kind of over-the-counter drug to treat them. Surprisingly, we know amazingly little about allergies but over the past decade, scientists have learned a lot. It leads us to wonder if allergy medicines work.  Does taking them prevent you from building up a tolerance to allergens? Do they make your allergies more severe? Well, allergy treatments are personal and not all medicines work the same no everyone. There are two types of allergy medicines: antihistamines and corticosteroids. Most people in America take antihistamines, which covers everything from Benadryl to Claritin to Zyrtec. In the brain, histamines help promote wakefulness within your normal sleep-wake cycle by attaching to a related but distinct receptor from the one that regulates allergic responses. The original antihistamines, namely Benadryl made people incredibly drowsy due to blocking all histamines. Second generation antihistamines, such as Claritin and Zyrtec, molecular structure that allows them to more specifically bind to the relevant receptors and therefore not causing drowsiness. Corticosteroids, such as Flonase and Nasacort, block the influx of inflammatory cells before the histamine part even gets started. Studies suggest these nasal sprays work better than antihistamines, most likely because they prevent a reaction from happening in the first place. However they take longer to kick in. Corticosteroids work best after two to four weeks of use because they're actually helping to modulate your immune system. However it is unlikely these medications are making your allergies worse. As we age, our immune systems change and our tolerance for allergens can change.

SOURCE: Popular Science

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