Antihistamines and Decongestants

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Drugs for stuffy nose, sinus trouble, congestion and the common cold constitute the largest segment of the over-the-counter market for Americas pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Edward Hill discusses two of these types of drugsanthihistamines and decongestantsin todays 60 Second Housecall.

Drugs such as antihistamines and decongestants can provide welcome relief for the discomforts that accompany allergies and the common cold. These drugs do not cure the allergies and infections, they only relieve the symptoms.

Congestion in the nose, sinuses and chest is caused by swollen, expanded or dilated blood vessels in the membranes of the nose and air passages. Histamine stimulates these blood vessels to expand.

Antihistamine drugs block the action of histamine, reducing the allergy symptoms. Antihistamines should be taken before allergic symptoms start. The most annoying side effect that antihistamines produce is drowsiness.

Decongestants cause constriction or tightening of the blood vessels in those membranes, which then forces much of the blood out of the membranes so that they shrink, and the air passages open up again. The main side effect of decongestants is a jittery or nervous feeling. They can cause difficulty in going to sleep, and they can elevate blood pressure and pulse rate.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.