First Generation Antihistamines

There are certain times of year when everyone’s allergies act up, and this is when we turn to first generation antihistamines. You have probably already guessed that first generation antihistamines are over-the-counter nasal allergy drugs. First generation antihistamines are also called OTCs and include brand names such as Benadryl, Tavest and Drixoral. All of these drugs have something in common to fight the symptoms that allergies bring on: six similar chemical classes.

These chemical classes help to fight the runny nose, cough and clogged sinuses associated with allergies. However, first generation antihistamines also come with side effects. Have you ever felt uncommonly sleepy after popping a first generation antihistamine into your mouth, even in the middle of the day? That is because a chemical in the first generation antihistamine can cross the blood line border in your brain. Usually, this border prevents any chemicals from crossing into the brain that could make the brain lose focus. When a first generation crosses the blood line border, it reduces mental alertness significantly and makes a person sleepy.

Other side effects of first generation antihistamines include heart palpitations, difficulty going to the bathroom, dry mouth and being nervous. You are not supposed to ingest a first generation antihistamine if you have certain medical conditions such as glaucoma, thyroid, heart or prostate issues. Do not even consider driving a vehicle after taking a first generation antihistamine. Your brain is so out of focus, that it is not safe to operate any kind of machinery.

Antihistamines work by attaching to the cells in your body that are causing you to sneeze, itch, have a runny nose, and suffer from other effects of allergies. The things that are causing your body to leak water are called histamines, thus the name antihistamines. First generation antihistamines are given that name because there is also a second category that was developed after them called second generation antihistamines. The latter are not over-the-counter drugs, but require a prescription for use. They are less likely to cause side effects such as drowsiness and dry mouth, as first generation antihistamines do.

Today, many people prefer to use second generation antihistamines because of the lack of side effects. These second generation antihistamines include Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra to name a few. Doctors also prefer to treat people using second generation antihistamines because they have proven quicker and more effective at relieving allergy symptoms. Only after a second generation antihistamine does not work will a doctor recommend a patient take a first generation antihistamine. A problem that many people have with second generation antihistamines is that they can lead to serious cardiac problems.

Third generation antihistamines are being developed today to do away with the flaw of second and first generation antihistamines. They will not contain any dangers to people’s hearts, nor will they heavily sedate people as with first generation antihistamines. Until that time, however, it is still safe and convenient to use first generation antihistamines to treat allergy symptoms.