So a decongestant is a particular medication that,
if you have congestion, can help relieve that.
And the way it relieves it is it constricts your blood vessels, especially
in your nose, so that you don't have that congested feeling anymore.
Antihistamines essentially block histamine. But
what is histamine? Well, when you have an allergic
reaction to something, your body sees that allergen
and then it releases something called histamine.
And that's the thing that causes your itchiness in your nose, itchiness
in eyes. And so antihistamines will block those types of symptoms.
Decongestants and antihistamines are similar in
the fact that they both treat allergic symptoms.
Now antihistamines can also prevent those symptoms
from occurring, whereas decongestants cannot.
Decongestants as well as antihistamines can be both as
an oral medication, such as a pill, or as a nasal spray.
Well if you have a history of allergies and you know
you've been in contact with that particular allergen,
you would prefer to use an antihistamine because that's what's
going to treat the reaction that's occurring in your body.
Now sometimes you have symptoms but you're not sure if it's from allergies
or a cold, so that would be a time you could try the decongestant.
Some side effects of decongestants that you
need to be aware of are sleeplessness, you
can feel nervous, increase in heart rate, and
you can also increase your blood pressure.
There are other types of decongestants too; one being
a nasal form that's in many medications that are OTC.
And this is something you want to be careful that you don't use too much
because you can actually get a rebound effect to this particular nasal spray,
which means that if you use it for more than 72 hours
or 3 days, then afterwards you will get worse symptoms.
Antihistamines can have some side effects as well that you need to be aware of.
Older generation antihistamines can cause some drowsiness, but our newer
medications of antihistamines actually have a lot less side effects.
Most decongestants as well as some
antihistamines are OTC currently. There are many
antihistamine sprays and other nasal sprays
that you do need to get a prescription for.
Before you start any new medication, you
want to make sure you speak to your doctor,
to make sure it's safe for you, even if you don't need a prescription for it.