Antihistamines are OTC medications that provide temporary relief from cold, flu and allergy symptoms.
We are currently on the 3rd generation of antihistamines, with each successive generation providing more effective relief with fewer side effects.
Antihistamines provide an array of health and wellness benefits that our team of experts have listed below.
18 Benefits Of Antihistamines
Today’s antihistamines are more effective than ever before. Here are the most consequential benefits of antihistamines as determined by our experts.
1: Antihistamines can relieve allergy symptoms.
Antihistamines are a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone (1). The primary reason people use antihistamines is to help them deal with their allergy symptoms. And they (the antihistamines) do a generally outstanding job of it. Whether you have a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, or nasal swelling, antihistamines can and do help.
2: Antihistamines can help you get to sleep.
This is particularly true of first-generation antihistamines like diphenhydramine (2). Often found in allergy medicines like Benadryl, diphenhydramine is known for its ability to produce drowsiness. Many allergy medicines have moved away from first-gen antihistamines for just this reason. At the same time, though, Benadryl remains popular in part because of its ability to help allergy sufferers get to sleep.
3: Antihistamines relieve congestion.
While they are not expressly designed to relieve congestion, antihistamines nonetheless do a pretty good job. They do not actually go after the congestion itself like a decongestant will, instead they work to prevent histamines from producing congestion (3) in the first place. A lot of people prefer this proactive approach to the decongestant approach of waiting until you are already stuffed up.
4: Antihistamines stop your runny nose.
A runny nose is one of the most unpleasant aspects of seasonal allergies. Antihistamines, as their name implies, block the action of histamines. Histamines are released by mast cells (4) as a function of the body’s immune response. Once released, they produce a variety of visible effects, including watery eyes and a runny nose. By blocking histamine release, antihistamines prevent a runny nose.
5: Antihistamines side effects are typically mild.
Antihistamines are not side effect free, but those side effects are usually mild. They may include a dry mouth, moodiness, or dizziness. And, as we mentioned, first-generation antihistamines are known to cause drowsiness. On rare occasions, people may experience more severe side effects such as confusion or urinary retention that should be reported to a doctor.
6: Antihistamines reduce red, itchy eyes.
Those same histamines that cause a runny nose also cause the red, itchy eyes you experience during an allergy attack. It is all part of the body’s natural immune response. But knowing that does not make it any easier to take. Antihistamines shut down histamine activity and restore normal eye function.
7: Antihistamines no longer cause urinary retention.
One of the most common side effects of first-generation antihistamines was (and is) water retention. Because they prevent histamines from enabling cell permeability, the body would be fooled into thinking it was short of fluids. As a result, it would stop passing fluid by way of urination. Today’s antihistamines allow for a higher degree of permeability, which prevents urinary retention.
8: Antihistamines allow you to enjoy the great outdoors.
One of the worst aspects of seasonal allergies is feeling like you have to stay indoors all the time. Antihistamines can provide a defensive wall pollen will not be able to penetrate, enabling you to re-engage with your favorite outdoor activities.
9: Antihistamines are affordable healthcare.
It is estimated that OTC medicines, including over the counter antihistamines, save US citizens nearly $150 billion a year by preventing unneeded doctor visits, lab tests, and hospitalizations (5). Before the advent of modern antihistamines, people either suffered in silence or were forced to seek professional help that, frankly, was not always that helpful. Today, they have a cheap and easy way to get relief.
10: Antihistamines do not require a prescription.
’Over the counter’ means no prescription is necessary. That fact not only negates the need for an expensive visit to the doctor, it also saves you time. There is no need to take an afternoon off from work to see the doctor. You can simply buy your preferred antihistamine online in your spare time and have it delivered to your door.
11: Antihistamines are proven safe and effective.
Antihistamines are a safe and effective form of medication taken by millions of people every day. They only become problematic if taken in large quantities, or when a person who is drowsy from antihistamine use tries to operate heavy equipment or some type of vehicle (6). But again, when taken as directed, antihistamines are a safe and effective means of obtaining relief.
12: Antihistamines no longer make you drowsy.
First generation antihistamines like diphenhydramine were and are generally effective. However, that effectiveness comes at a price. They tend to make a lot of people drowsy. A major incentive for the creation of second and third-generation antihistamines was to find a way to avoid the drowsiness. And, fortunately, most new antihistamine products no longer produce drowsiness.
13: Antihistamines can help your children deal with allergies.
First generation antihistamines provide effective relief for many adults but were (and are) considered inappropriate for children due to the threat of overdosing. Today’s second and third-generation antihistamines largely negate that threat and are considered both safe and effective for kids (7).
14: Antihistamines can be administered in a variety of ways.
Not everyone is comfortable, or even able, to take medicine the same way. Antihistamines are available in different forms to accommodate people’s differing needs. Hard tablets, gel caps, liquids, and nasal sprays are the most popular methods of administering OTC antihistamines. Sometimes a doctor may prescribe intravenous antihistamines (8). But such occasions are rare.
15: Antihistamines are safer than ever for seniors.
Falls are a significant health concern for the elderly (9). As such, anything that increases the potential for a fall is a potential problem. For this reason, the elderly were, and are, discouraged from using first-generation antihistamines that often cause drowsiness. Fortunately, the new generation of antihistamines do not cause drowsiness, which enables seniors to enjoy safe and effective allergy relief.
16: Antihistamines can be used to treat flu symptoms.
Contrary to popular belief, antihistamines are not just for allergy symptoms. If you suffer from a runny nose or watery eyes due to a cold or flu, it is likely antihistamines can help. They may also reduce sneezing and itching associated with a cold or flu. So if your current cold medicine is not working, ask your doctor if you should try antihistamines.
17: Antihistamines are safe for long term use.
Because seasonal allergies can last for months at a time, and recur year after year, the safety of long term antihistamine use often comes up. That is understandable since most medicines are not intended to be used for months or years at a time. Fortunately, today’s antihistamines are considered safe when used over long periods, with the main concern being the potential for increased user tolerance (10).
18: Antihistamines improve your quality of life.
There can be little doubt about this fact. For most people, antihistamines relieve the worst symptoms of allergies. In many cases, this enables the person to re-engage with life in ways they may have avoided for years. They become more productive, more upbeat, and see nature as less of an adversary. Their loved ones also benefit from this improved outlook.
Antihistamines help you sleep better, relieve your runny nose and congestion, reduce red, itchy eyes and enable you to enjoy the outdoors. They’re also safe for adults of all ages, easy to take and available without a prescription.