All About Allergies

Allergies are the body’s natural response to an irritant. The immune system goes into overdrive to remove the foreign substance. The resulting allergic reactions can be uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous. Allergies can happen in several ways. For example, touching a plant can cause the skin to become red and irritated. Ingesting, eating, or injecting something can cause severe responses. Some cases are hay fever from pollen, dust, and other airborne irritants.

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Treating allergies with medicine

More than 50 million Americans have at least one allergy. To deal with the allergen, the body releases receptors called histamines. These histamines cause mild symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and swollen eyes. Histamines cause low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and even death in severe cases. To treat the effects of these receptors, there is a range of antihistamines available. These drugs come in different strengths and forms. Some are prescription, while others are over-the-counter formulations.

Over the counter medicine

Most people with allergies will get an over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medication. There are several FDA-approved OTC medications on the market. These do not need a prescription and treat mild to moderate allergic reactions. OTC medication comes in pill, liquid, topical, and nasal spray forms. Mild formulations are also available for kids.

The pros and cons of OTC medication

The advantage of OTC medication is accessibility and ease of use. Allergy sufferers can easily find one at a pharmacy or convenience store. These drugs can treat stuffy, runny noses, skin breakouts, and much more. OTC has also evolved and is much more effective. Despite the accessibility, these medicines do have side effects, like drowsiness, affecting daily function. Furthermore, if used excessively, the drug may become less potent.

Prescription allergy medication

Prescription medication needs approval from a doctor or allergist. These drugs are often higher dosages or work differently than OTC. For instance, some may suppress other chemicals that cause inflammation. Prescription also comes in injection form, which can be vital in life-threatening situations.

Why you should opt for a prescription

Prescription allergy medication comes into play if over-the-counter medicine is ineffective. A doctor’s visit is required first so that the prescription may be better suited for the patient long-term. In some formulations, prescription drugs have fewer side effects than over-the-counter antihistamines. Over time, the cost of OTC medication may be more than the time and money for prescription treatment.

How doctors and pharmacists can help

If an allergy shows up for the first time, an OTC medication may be enough. However, if the allergy is severe or chronic, doctors recommend visiting an allergist. The allergist can perform patch tests or blood tests to determine the allergy. From there, prescription drugs are a better option. A pharmacist can also provide sound advice on allergy medicine and ways to avoid complications. Since allergies can be dangerous, people with allergies should lean on these experts to use the right drug.


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