What is an Antihistamine?
If you have any type of seasonal allergy (seasonal allergic rhinitis), you have probably heard the terms histamine and antihistamine. It’s important to know as much as you can about your allergies, so here’s a brief breakdown.
Histamines are produced naturally in the body. They are part of the immune system’s initial response to foreign pathogens, such as pollen, pet dander, other allergens (and even pollution). Normal allergy symptoms occur when the immune system produces histamines to fight off the allergens entering the body, such as runny nose, itchy eyes, and severe sneezing.
Antihistamines, then, are medications designed to block the histamine receptors in the body, and bypass the body’s reaction to allergens and reduce unwanted symptoms. The first antihistamine drug was made available to the public in the 1930s, and many brands of traditional allergy medicine have stemmed from that initial release of the medication. And while many antihistamine products today are effective at preventing and easing allergy symptoms, they aren’t perfect and shouldn’t be used as the sole treatment for chronic allergies.