Allergy season is here again. Pollen, ragweed, pet dander, and dust mites can trigger allergies. Your body produces histamines when it comes in contact with these triggers. Histamines can cause a number of reactions including, a stuffy nose, your nose and eyes to run, itchy eyes, and an itchy rash or hives.
Both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are available to counteract the effect of histamines. These are called antihistamines or allergy medicines. Some common prescription antihistamines are: Atarax (hydroxyzine), Clarinex (desloratadine), and Optivar (azelastine). Some common OTC antihistamines are: Allegra (fexofenadine), Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Claritin (loratadine), and Zyrtec (certirizine).
Although the antihistamine may decrease your allergy symptoms, some can cause an unwanted side effect, drowsiness. Feeling drowsy can make you feel unfocused and slower to react. Even if you do not feel drowsy, you may experience a slower reaction time, haziness, or mild confusion.
Here's what you can do: Before taking any allergy medicine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to determine what will work best for you. If you decide to use an OTC antihistamine, be sure to read the directions for use and warnings listed in the Drug Facts label on the package. If you decide to use a prescription antihistamine, talk to your pharmacist about the medicine, how to use it, what the side effects are, and what precautions to take. If the antihistamine you take says it can cause drowsiness, avoid driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery. Also avoid using alcohol and other medicines that can cause drowsiness when taking an antihistamine.
For the original FDA alert please click here.