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Some Allergy Medicines may be Causing you Harm

Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

I have had allergies all my life.  Hay fever it was called. It used to begin around August 15 and rage on until a good frost.  I can remember being so miserable throughout the end of summer.Fast forward today, and with all the new treatments and over-the-counter medicines, it’s a pretty good bet that you are getting helped. I know I am.

But, am I doing my self some harm by taking the medicines, or antihistamines? The answer could be yes.

These medications are used to relieve or prevent allergy symptoms or those of the common cold. Some antihistamines are also used to prevent motion sickness, nausea, vomiting and dizziness, and to treat anxiety or insomnia.
Examples: Brompheniramine (Dimetane), carbinoxamine (Clistin), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist), diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and hydroxyzine (Vistaril).

I’ve been reading these medications (prescription and over-the-counter) inhibit the action of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that mediates a wide range of functions in the body. In the brain, they inhibit activity in the memory and learning centers, which can lead to memory loss, and, oh, like I need more of that.

Alternatives: Newer-generation antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) are better tolerated by older patients and do not present the same risks to memory and cognition.

So, if you’re taking some of the older drugs, check with your doctor. It’s never too early to think about something that causes, uh…mmm…I just had it…oh, memory loss!

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