Second Generation Antihistamines

Have you ever heard of the term second generation antihistamines and wondered what it meant? It is a good idea to start out with a general idea of what an antihistamine does. There are certain cells in your body that leak water when attacked by allergens. These are called histamines. A second generation antihistamine drug stops the histamines from creating the extra fluid that makes your nose and eyes run when you have allergies. Before second generation antihistamines were developed, though, there were first generation antihistamines.

The over-the-counter drugs developed before second generation antihistamines came along work in the same way that second generation antihistamines do. There is an exception, though. The first generation antihistamines came with a boatload of side effects, the primary one being decreased mental alertness and increased drowsiness. This was not an effective drug to take during the daytime. Therefore, doctors developed second generation antihistamines that did not include the chemicals that caused these side effects. Second generation antihistamines are not over-the-counter, but require a doctor’s prescription.

The pros of using a second generation antihistamine are that these drugs are non-drowsy. You can take them at any time and not have to worry about losing focus. Be aware, however, that taking even a little more than a prescribed dosage could lead to heavier drowsiness than you would experience by taking a first generation antihistamine. Another good thing about using a second generation antihistamine is that you have to take it less often than an over-the-counter drug. Most you only take once or twice a day. Second generation antihistamines are longer acting than first generation antihistamines.

A con about taking second generation antihistamines is that they take an extended period to take effect. Sometimes you have to wait an hour or more for the chemicals to kick in and start working in your body. Doctors often recommend that patients who are taking second generation antihistamines take the medicine well before an allergic reaction will take place. For example, if a person knows he is going to be outside and that usually causes an allergic reaction; he should take the second generation antihistamine at least an hour before he has to go outside.

Another potential side effect of second generation antihistamines is serious cardiac issues. In fact, two second generation antihistamines had to be taken off the market because they were found to have lethal heart side effects. When a second generation antihistamine is taken at more than the recommended dosage or in addition to other medications that are not known to your doctor, the second generation antihistamines can also cause heart problems. Currently, however, there are no second generation antihistamines on the market that cause heart problems taken at a normal dosage.

Second generation antihistamines relieve all the allergy symptoms that first generation antihistamines do, but with significantly less side effects. Although they are more expensive than over-the-counter drugs, second generation antihistamines are often considered well worth the money for the relief they bring.