In a perfect world, antihistamines would deliver 24-hour relief for all allergy sufferers. The truth is antihistamines only ease, rather than eliminate, the symptoms of hay fever, hives and seasonal allergies.
The amount and length of relief one gets varies from one individual to another. Generally, 24-hour antihistamines work for 12+ hours and do not ease symptoms entirely.
Those who are getting 12 hours of relief and sometimes less are left wondering what they should do. Recently, a friend told me her 24-hour antihistamine only relieved her symptoms for six hours.
Here are some suggestions if your 24-hour antihistamine is letting you down.
•Switch medications from time to time. Antihistamines can become less effective with long-term use. Many allergists will recommend changing medications if you are not getting sufficient relief. Today, there are many options, both prescription and over the counter.
• Some individuals may benefit by switching to a 12-hour antihistamine. This offers more flexibility in some cases. For instance, you could take two different medications. One might be a cheaper, more sedating, antihistamine for nighttime and a more expensive, non-sedating, one during the day.
•Consider adding some other tools to your allergy-fighting arsenal. If you mainly have eye symptoms, add or switch to allergy eye drops. Nasal symptoms might be improved by using a saline nasal solution as needed throughout the day. Or try nasal irrigation several times a day with a Neti Pot or electronic nasal irrigator. Some individuals who try nasal irrigation report a significant reduction in nasal allergy symptoms.
•Clean out your “personal inflammation” closet. Allergies cause inflammation in the body. You can strengthen your immune system and reduce inflammation by adding more antioxidant-rich foods to your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties and are found in foods such as salmon and other oily fish, nuts and seeds, and flaxseed oil.
•Reduce your allergen exposure. Household allergens (dust mites, pet dander, house dust) and/or food allergies/sensitivities may be adding to your problems.
•Consider allergy shots. Allergies can drain your energy and reduce your enjoyment of life. Check into allergy shots if your meds are not providing the relief you want.