GMB: Ranvir Singh suffering from hay fever concerning Richard
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Sleepy antihistamines include chlorphenamine (Piriton), cinnarizine, diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine and promethazine – have you checked your packet? Taking these antihistamines, not realising they’re of the drowsy kind, can be dangerous. The NHS warned that in addition to drowsiness, the antihistamines can also lead to reduced co-ordination, reaction speed and judgement.
As such, driving while taking drowsy antihistamines is extremely dangerous.
“Do not drive or use machinery after taking these antihistamines,” the health body cautioned.
Antihistamines could also lead to a dry mouth, blurred vision, and difficulty urinating.
Antihistamines may also interact with other medications, such as antidepressants, stomach ulcer medication, or cough and cold remedies.
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“Try not to drink alcohol while taking an antihistamine, particularly if it’s a type that makes you drowsy,” the NHS added.
Moreover, if you have an underlying health condition (such as heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, or epilepsy), it’s best to speak to a pharmacist before taking antihistamines.
How do antihistamines work?
The NHS explained: “Antihistamines block the effects of a substance called histamine in your body.”
Histamine is released when the body detects an allergen, such as pollen, which causes blood vessels to expand and the skin to swell.
Hay fever sufferers then go on to experience itchy, watering eyes, a running or blocked nose, sneezing, and skin rashes.
Taking antihistamines for insomnia
Although some over-the-counter antihistamines can be effective at causing you to fall asleep, it’s not advisable to take them to treat insomnia.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic warned that “tolerance to the sedative effects of antihistamines can develop quickly”.
In addition, sedating antihistamines diphenhydramine and doxylamine have anticholinergic properties, which might increase the risk of dementia.
“In older adults these drugs also can cause confusion, hallucinations, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, nausea, and impaired sweating,” the experts noted.
Likewise, the medication could include an “inability to empty the bladder completely (urinary retention) and rapid heart rate (tachycardia)”.
The Sleep Foundation diagnosed insomnia as the “persistent difficulty with sleep onset, maintenance, consolidation, or quality”.
Daytime symptoms of insomnia might include:
- Fatigue or malaise
- Impairments with memory, concentration, or attention
- Negative impacts on social, family, occupational, or academic performance
- Irritability or disturbed mood
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Hyperactivity, impulsivity, aggression, or other behavioural problems
- Increased risk for errors and accidents
- Lack of motivation or energy.
People who go to the doctor about their insomnia might be asked to do an overnight sleep study.
To improve insomnia symptoms, it helps to create healthy sleep patterns.
This will involve waking up and going to bed at the same time every day.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may also be suggested as part of the treatment plan.
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