June 24, 2022

Hay fever antihistamine to ‘avoid’ as allergy expert gives two key tips

Spring has arrived and hay fever season is back – but a doctor has warned against taking a specific form of antihistamine.

NHS allergy consultant and clinical lead Dr Sophie Farooque appeared on Morning Live on the BBC this week to explain the different medications available, saying people with hay fever should seek out antihistamines which cause drowsiness .

READ MORE –Drivers with hay fever or allergies face huge £1,000 fines

The doctor explained what to look out for, offering two key tips when shopping for antihistamines, the Express reported.

“First, always look at the name of the drug, not necessarily the brand,” she said. It doesn’t matter the brand, it’s the drug that counts.

“Doctors divide antihistamines into first generation, which are older, and second generation, which are newer.” Among these two types, the one to “avoid” is the first generation option also called “older”.



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Dr Farooque continued: “The first generation antihistamine is called chlorpheniramine and I advise patients to avoid it. [is] they are really old, they have been around for 70, 73 years, they work less well.

“You have to take them several times a day but, also, they can be sedating.” However, this is not the only dangerous effect of the little pill. The allergy expert warned: “And even though they aren’t sedating, they can slow down your reaction times.

“So in some studies they have a bigger impact on your driving than being drunk.”

MedlinePlus also warned against driving or operating machinery after chlorpheniramine treatment. Fortunately, there is another class of antihistamines that is “less likely” to make you sleepy.

According to the NHS, non-drowsy antihistamines include:

  • Acrivastin (Benadryl)
  • Cetirizine
  • Fexofenadine
  • Loratadine (Clarityn)

The health department said this option is “generally the best” because it’s less likely to leave you drowsy. “Ask a pharmacist for advice if you are unsure which medicine to try as not all antihistamines are suitable for everyone,” he added.