New Ways to Treat Allergies

Expert panel recommends non-impairing antihistamines for symptoms

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THURSDAY, May 29, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Doctors need to educate patients about dangerous side effects such as sedation and impairment that can be caused by first-generation antihistamines, say new recommendations from an expert panel.

The panel recommendations conclude that allergies, including seasonal ones, should be treated with second-generation, non-impairing antihistamines instead of over-the-counter, first-generation antihistamines such as Benadryl.

Those older generation antihistamines are often dosed and selected inappropriately. That can lead to dangerous side effects such as sedation and impairment, which can increase the risk of injury, as well as reduced quality of life.

The panel's recommendations were developed at a recent consensus conference and appear in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Even though these first-generation antihistamines can cause impairment and sedation, the panel says that 47 percent of people with allergies take them. The panel says people with allergies need to avoid these first-generation medications and discuss the use of non-impairing antihistamines with their doctor.

More than 40 million Americans have allergies, but only 20 percent see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment of their symptoms. Allergy symptoms, if left untreated, can mask more serious chronic conditions such as asthma or sinusitis.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about allergies.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, news release, May 2003

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