What makes allergy medicine non drowsy
Take your medicine as advised by your pharmacist or doctor, or as described in the leaflet that comes with it.
Before taking an antihistamine, you should know:
- how endless to take it for – some types can be used for a endless time, but some are only recommended for a few days
- how to take it – including whether it needs to be taken with water or food, or how to use it correctly (if eye drops or a nasal spray)
- when to take it – including how numerous times a day you can take it and when to take it (older types should be taken before bedtime)
- how much to take (the dose) – this can vary depending on things such as your age and weight
- what to do if you miss a dose or take too much (overdose)
The advice varies depending on the exact medicine you’re taking.
If you’re not certain how to take your medicine, enquire your pharmacist.
Who can take antihistamines
Most people can safely take antihistamines.
But speak to a pharmacist or your GP for advice if you:
Some antihistamines may not be suitable in these cases.
Your pharmacist or doctor can recommend one that’s best for you.
Always read the leaflet that comes with your medicine to check it’s safe for you before taking it or giving it to your child.
How antihistamines work
Antihistamines work by stopping a substance called histamine affecting the cells in your body.
Histamine is a chemical released when the body detects something harmful, such as an infection. It causes blood vessels to expand and the skin to swell (known as inflammation), which helps protect the body.
But in people with allergies, the body mistakes something harmless, such as pollen, for a threat.
It then produces histamine, which causes symptoms such as rashes, a runny nose and/or sneezing.
Antihistamines assist stop this happening if you take them before you come into contact with the substance you’re allergic to. Or they can reduce the severity of symptoms if taken afterwards.
Find out more about your medicine
If you no longer have the leaflet that came with your medicine, you can search for an online version of it on the following websites:
The leaflet will own detailed information about your specific medicine, including how to take it and what side effects you might get.
Sheet final reviewed: 7 March 2017
Next review due: 7 March 2020
|Type of medicine||Antihistamine (non-drowsy)|
|Used for||Allergies including hay fever and allergic skin rashes|
|Also called||Clarityn® Allergy; Clarityn® Rapide Allergy; Boots One A Day Allergy Relief; LloydsPharmacy Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief; Numark Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief|
|Available as||Tablets, orodispersible tablets (which melt in the mouth) and oral liquid medicine|
Loratadine belongs to a group of medicines called antihistamines — it is an anti-allergy medicine.
It stops the effects of a naturally occurring substance called histamine and this helps to relieve the symptoms of allergies such as hay fever and urticaria.
Exposure to substances such as pollen, pet fur, home dust or insect bites can cause your body to produce allergic symptoms.
Cells in the lining of your nose and eyes release histamine when they come into contact with these substances. This leads to inflammation in your nose and eyes, which produces symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes.
Urticaria is a condition where an itchy skin rash develops.
The rash can be triggered by an allergy to a substance such as a soap or a detergent.
Loratadine can be prescribed for you by a doctor or dentist, or you can purchase it without a prescription at pharmacies and other retail outlets. Tablet formulations are generally suitable for adults and older children, whereas oral liquid medicine is available for younger children.
Loratadine is not suitable for children under 2 years of age.
Taking antihistamines with other medicines, food or alcohol
Speak to a pharmacist or your GP before taking antihistamines if you’re already taking other medicines.
There may be a risk the medicines could affect each other, which could stop either from working properly or increase the risk of side effects.
Examples of medicines that could cause problems if taken with antihistamines include some types of:
It’s best to avoid alcohol while taking an antihistamine, particularly if you’re taking an older type of antihistamine, as this can increase the chances of it making you feel sleepy.
Food and other drinks don’t affect most antihistamines, but check the leaflet that comes with your medicine to make sure.
Side effects of antihistamines
Like every medicines, antihistamines can cause side effects.
Side effects of older types of antihistamines can include:
- blurred vision
- sleepiness (drowsiness) and reduced co-ordination, reaction speed and judgement – don’t drive or use machinery after taking these antihistamines because of this risk
- dry mouth
- difficulty emptying your bladder
Side effects of non-drowsy antihistamines can include:
- feeling ill
- dry mouth
- drowsiness – this is less common than with older types of antihistamines
Check the leaflet that comes with your medicine for a full list of possible side effects and advice about when to get medical help.
If you ponder your medicine has caused an unwanted side effect, you can report it through the Yellow Card Scheme.
Types of antihistamine
There are many types of antihistamine.
They’re generally divided into two main groups:
- older antihistamines that make you feel sleepy – such as chlorphenamine, hydroxyzine and promethazine
- newer, non-drowsy antihistamines that are less likely to make you feel sleepy – such as cetirizine, loratadine and fexofenadine
They also come in several diverse forms – including tablets, capsules, liquids, syrups, creams, lotions, gels, eye drops and nasal sprays.
Which type is best?
There’s not much evidence to propose any particular antihistamine is better than any other at relieving allergy symptoms.
Some people find certain types work well for them and others do not.
You may need to attempt more than one type to discover one that works for you.
Non-drowsy antihistamines are generally the best option, as they’re less likely to make you feel sleepy. But types that make you feel sleepy may be better if your symptoms affect your sleep.
Ask a pharmacist for advice if you’re unsure which medicine to attempt, not every antihistamines are suitable for everyone.