When you have allergies, you might feel tempted to take an extra dose of your antihistamine if you aren’t experiencing any allergy relief after taking your first pill. However, this can be dangerous, especially if you've never been to an allergist or allergy doctor to get a specific allergy treatment plan.
Mixing similar allergy pills or increasing the dose you take can result in unwanted side effects that can be very serious. Be very cautious about the allergy medications you combine and talk to a doctor when you have questions about treating your allergies.
Schedule a consultation with one of our allergy doctors to get a more effective allergy treatment plan, or continue reading to learn about how to safely treat your allergies.
What Are the Most Common Allergy Symptoms?
More than 50 million people in the US have allergy symptoms. Everyone experiences their allergy symptoms slightly differently depending on the severity of their allergies and their medical history. Some common symptoms you could experience include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Ear pain
- Nasal congestion
Having allergies can severely impact someone's health and quality of life. If you are constantly being exposed to the allergens you are allergic to, you might suffer a lot from your never-ending symptoms. In particular, if you have pollen allergies and are frequently outside, it can be hard to avoid exposure to your allergens.
When you’re dealing with allergy symptoms, over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines, nasal sprays, and eye drops can initially feel like a lifesaver. But these medications frequently don’t provide enough relief from your allergy symptoms, especially if your allergies are more severe.
However, this doesn't mean you should try to combine similar types of medicines or change your allergy medication prescription without consulting with your doctor. Make sure that you're following the specific guidelines of your medical treatment because altering the doses could have negative effects on your health.
How Do Antihistamines Work?
OTC antihistamines work by blocking the release of histamine, a chemical your immune system produces when you are exposed to your allergy triggers. The release of histamine can result in many different allergy symptoms as an attempt to get the allergens out of your body.
Difference Between First-Generation and Second-Generation Antihistamines
There are two different generations of antihistamines. First-generation antihistamines, like diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cause drowsiness and fatigue. Second-generation, non-sedating antihistamines are newer antihistamines that are also effective but do not cause drowsiness unless you take very high doses. Second-generation antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra).
How Often Can Over-The-Counter Allergy Medications Be Taken?
Most OTC allergy medications are only meant to be taken once a day. However, some antihistamines can be taken multiple times a day depending on the recommended dosage on the packaging or as instructed by a doctor. It is important to take OTC allergy meds as directed to avoid harmful side effects.
For example, while Claritin 24-hour and Allegra 24-hour tablets are only taken once every 24 hours, Claritin 12-hour and Allegra 12-hour tablets are typically taken once every 12 hours. Benadryl is usually taken once every 4-6 hours or as directed by a doctor.
How Can You Safely Take Allergy Meds?
Antihistamines have been around for decades and are effective for short-term allergy relief. However, they must be taken according to the recommended dosage or the directions of your doctor.
Even if you’re severely suffering from allergies, with incredibly watery eyes or a scratchy throat, it’s not recommended to take more than the daily dosage as there can be side effects that occur. If your OTC antihistamine isn’t effective in treating your allergy symptoms, you can talk to a doctor to find a more effective treatment plan.
Is Mixing Allergy Meds Safe?
You can safely mix different types of allergy medications, like Flonase, a nasal spray, and Claritin, an antihistamine. In fact, it’s often recommended by doctors. Choosing two allergy treatments that you take through different routes, like taking a pill and using eye drops, can decrease the risk of interactions between the medications.
While antihistamine pills can and are frequently combined with oral decongestants, like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), they can have some adverse side effects. This can cause headaches, lightheadedness, a dry nose, and more. It is important that you talk with your doctor if you experience side effects from your medications.
It is not recommended to combine steroid nasal sprays with each other and it is not safe to mix different types of antihistamine allergy pills. If your allergy treatments are not as effective as you need, consult your doctor to adjust the dosage or your medication.
What Are Symptoms of Antihistamine Overdose?
If you experience dry mouth, agitation, dizziness, nausea, a racing heartbeat, or poor balance/coordination, please seek medical attention immediately. An antihistamine overdose can have severe side effects and complications. Symptoms of an antihistamine overdose include having elevated blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, hallucinations, seizures, and more.
Additionally, it is possible to take too much of a first-generation (sedative) antihistamine and if this is the case and you're feeling extremely drowsy or fatigued, also seek medical attention.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
If you want long-term relief from your allergies, sublingual immunotherapy might be the best option for you. Instead of temporarily masking your symptoms, sublingual immunotherapy retrains your immune system to stop reacting to your allergies. At Wyndly, our allergy doctors will create a personalized treatment plan for your allergies to get you living allergy-free.
Take our brief online assessment today to see how Wyndly can help you!