Antihistamines: how and for which allergies do they work?


The body’s reaction to an allergy is usually quite unpleasant. In these cases, anti-allergy medication is highly appreciated.

Allergic reaction

When an allergy sufferer comes into contact with their personal allergen, such as pollen, certain foods (in cases of fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance or histamine intolerance, for example) or an insect bite, the body releases the messenger substance histamine. Histamine attaches itself to the histamine receptors in the cells, causing an allergic reaction in the form of:

  • Skin rash
  • Itching
  • Eye redness
  • Swelling
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose

How antihistamines work

Anti-allergy drugs counteract this process, with antihistamines forming the main group. These are active substances that neutralise the effect of the body’s own histamine by blocking the receptors and thereby preventing the activation of allergic symptoms. Antihistamines also alleviate the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Use of antihistamine in the following allergies and medical conditions

  • Hay fever (pollen allergy)
  • House dust mite allergy
  • Animal allergy (e. g. cat allergy)
  • Allergic conjunctivitis
  • Hives or nettle rash
  • Anaphylaxis (part of emergency kit)

Medication: in what forms antihistamines are available

Antihistamines are available as tablets or drops, eye drops and nasal sprays. Eye drops and nasal sprays have the ad­van­tage of being fast-acting, as they are applied locally to treat allergic con­junc­tivitis (red, watery, itchy eyes) or an allergic cold (runny, congested or itchy nose).

Are there any household remedies for allergies?

It’s widely believed that some foods contain substances that have an anti-allergic effect. Calcium and zinc, for example, are said to inhibit the production of histamine. However, whether and to what extent household remedies can help with allergies is yet to be scientifically proven.

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