Allergies are a medical condition that manifests by causing the affected individual’s immune system to respond and attack inhaled or ingested substances, even though they might be completely harmless. Allergic reactions are very common in the United States, and the recent statistics published by the National Institute of Health show that over 50% of the US population is sensitive to at least one common allergen substance. Furthermore, approximately 20% are especially susceptible to at least one of the several known food-based allergens, such as milk, peanuts, or shellfish. Affected individuals can present with a wide variety of symptoms.
The less severe symptoms are localized skin rashes, itching, and congestion. In the case of the individual presenting a more severe allergic reaction, also known as an anaphylactic shock, the observed symptoms may range from widespread swelling of tissue, inability to breathe, pain, dizziness and nausea. Such responses have to be immediately dealt with appropriate medications, as they pose a very serious risk and if left untreated they may ultimately be fatal. However, due to the high rates of allergies in the United States and the risk they pose, both the medical and the pharmaceutical communities have devised treatment options available to patients stricken with this condition.
In the United States, the most common treatment method for allergies is the applications of one of the many available over-the-counter products from the antihistamine class. The purpose of antihistamines is to reduce the release of histamines – the substance produced by human immune system cells when they come into contact with an allergen – to lower the severity of the allergic reaction. However, when using such antihistamine products it is important to remember that many older antihistamines, such as Diphenhydramine and Dramamine, may cause substantial drowsiness and lethargy even when one takes the recommended dose. There are newer antihistamine-based products like Alavert, which are designed to be non-drowsy, and thus can be taken during the day, without one having to worry about any sedation effects.
Another effective treatment option for allergic reactions is the use of decongestant medications. These types of products allow the individual to breathe easier by decreasing the swelling of nasal passages and blood vessels through vasoconstriction. However, as blood vessels shrink the pressure inside them may increase, and consequently any person diagnosed with high blood pressure should consult with their physician before taking any decongestants. If one is looking for a stronger form of treatment, there are many prescription allergy medications available. In addition to stronger antihistamine and decongestant products, the person’s physician may also prescribe a steroid from the corticosteroid class of drugs. These substances are very effective at reducing swelling and itchiness, by controlling the levels of hydrocortisone: human hormone partially responsible for suppressing certain immune system reaction. However, steroid medications are not a one-time treatment option, and may have to be taken regularly in order for the person to receive their full benefits.