long term risks of allergy drugs and antihistamines

Long-Term Risks for Taking Allergy Drugs [Research]

In Antihistamine Addiction, Bad Habits by Anthony18 Comments

long term risks of allergy drugs and antihistamines

Allergy medicines are drugs that are designed to block a reaction by your own immune system. In the case of an allergic reaction, this means that your body is responding harshly to a particular outside substance that has made contact with the inside of your body. It’s easy and seemingly effective to take these store-bought drugs to feel better about your allergic reactions, but what are the long-term health risks for taking allergy medications and antihistamines?

Research on Long-term Use

It has been determined without-a-doubt that earlier generations of allergy drugs can affect your central nervous system. Notably, rates of Alzheimer’s disease is significantly higher for people that have regularly consumed diphenhydramine or Benadryl.

Allergy drugs and antidepressants, in particular, has generated controversy over how these drugs affect your nervous system and brain function. These drugs can be classed into a group called anticholinergics.

A study done on these types of medicines could point in an association between long-term and high-dose usage of these drugs and a risk for developing memory loss. However, this research could not prove cause-and-effect.

There seems to be a significant factor with the dosage of the drug and how high of risk you have for developing dementia. At the lowest recommended dosage range, there did not seem to be a high risk for long-term problems.

Study on Chronic Use of Allergy Drugs

This study was done by Shelly Gray of the Group Health Research Institute from University of Washington. Her team has determined that anticholinergics work by blocking acetylcholine in the brain and body. This is a special neurochemical that is produced by the body for movement and transport of messages.

Over three thousand senior adults were followed for more than seven years for this study. Some of these  adults took 4 milligrams of diphenhydramine or Benadryl  for their allergies or regular sleep issues. The study team had determined that occasional use among these elders for allergy drugs did not significantly affect their memory problems. (1)

Instead, those who have accumulated exposure of allergy drugs and antihistamines were much more likely to experience long-term problems.

In a news report, Gray had warned that older adults should be aware that these medications, both available over-the-counter and through prescription, carry these risks to your nervous system and brain health. The same goes for anything that could be considered to have anticholinergic effects. (2)

This study basically proves that there are risks to taking first-generation allergy medications for a long period of time.

allergy drug risks and antihistamines

Research results take YEARS for a conclusive result

I think this is very shocking because many parents heavily relied on Benadryl and other anticholinergic drugs to help their children get to sleep in the 90’s. It is possible that these children could have complications to their health due to this.

When considering the elderly adults during this study, the participants did not have access to Benadryl when they were children because it was not available yet, but we exposed later on in life. I am wondering what kind of effects that these medications could have on developing brains.

In addition to that, diphenhydramine drugs are used by teenagers for a “legal high” in which they take an ENTIRE bottle or package of Benadryl to start hallucinating and dissociating heavily. The majority of these recreational users are below the age of 18.

Now, remember that this study took almost 8 years to complete on elderly participants to determine without a doubt that these particular classes of allergy drugs could cause long-term damage to your health.

Let’s consider all of the allergy drugs that are newer than Benadryl: It’s going to take about 8 years for them to determine if these drugs cause any type of damage as well.

I don’t see why we would take risks to our memories, immune health, etc. when we can’t trust the drug market. There simply isn’t enough science to back up the effects of these new drugs yet.

This is why we believe that avoiding these chemical drugs and antihistamines would be your best bet for yourself and especially your children. We don’t recommend that children under 21 consume alcohol because it can have irreversible effects on their health. So why are we going to give our two-year-olds a hallucinogenic and dissociative drug to help them sleep free from allergies?

Simply, ANY chemicals and drugs have risks to your health because they could be affecting you and your children in ways that you don’t even feel or suspect.

The best choice you can probably make for your health problems, and allergies in particular, is to not trust everything and be skeptical. Drugs that block mechanisms by your own body probably don’t treat the root cause of your health problems (allergies).

Instead, it may be best to look at your health and how you can improve nutrition and use natural supplements that you can trust because our ancestors have used them for millennia. Allergy drugs have only be available for up to 50 years, so how are we going to know how it affects us over the decades?

Antihistamines Can Suppress Your Immune Function

These allergy drugs basically do a few basic things to your body. They don’t get rid of the allergens or make your body not allergic to whatever it is reacting to. Instead, it makes your immune system unable to produce certain chemicals that make you sneeze.

When an invader like an allergen, bacteria, or virus enters your body, your immune system will produce histamine and other chemicals to try to promote inflammation at the source of infection, which will hopefully be enough to kill whatever it is. Your immune system can also resort to fever, vomiting, and diarrhea to quickly get rid of the invader.

If you are trying to get rid of allergy symptoms, AKA natural immune functions, these drugs and chemicals will stop histamine from promoting inflammation in your body. This means that you won’t sneeze or have annoying allergy symptoms. (3)

So what if an actually dangerous pathogen enters your body? Your immune system will not be able to function properly to get rid of the disease. This makes you much more susceptible to infection in certain areas of the body, like your sinuses and throat.

This should definitely be considered when taking an antihistamine drug. It could be suppressing your proper immune function.

Treating your allergies by fixing your body’s unique nutrition will actually support your immune system rather than blocking its natural function.

Future Possible Health Risks That We May Discover Soon

First generation H1 sedating antihistamines have low receptor specificity and easily cross the blood-brain barrier. In newer generations, these problems have been solved. However, that doesn’t mean that these new drugs don’t have possible risks.

We know that second-generation antihistamines can dehydrate your mucus membranes. How healthy this is, we are unsure at the moment. But we do know that it stops us from sneezing.

Newer antihistamines can also cause:

  • Sedation
  • Impaired motor function
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth and sinuses
  • Blurred vision
  • Urinary retention
  • Constipation
  • Liver failure
  • Worsening of glaucoma

From that information, we know that these small little antihistamine pills like Zyrtec and Allegra, can affect your sinuses as well as your digestive system, eyes, brain, bladder, etc. (4)

We could also consider that side effects of these drugs to be the most obvious accidental effects that you can experience while taking the drugs. Obviously dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was not an obvious side effect of taking diphenhydramine Benadryl. For instance, Allegra may cause liver failure and we will not even notice it over years of taking it.

The antihistamines that have been linked to acute liver injury include:

  • Cyproheptadine
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  • Terfenadine (No longer available)
antihistamines can carry risks

Anticholinergic drugs to avoid

Chronic Hives Caused by Some Prescription Antihistamines

There is a high rate of incidence for chronic hives due to certain chemicals like Reactine. Many users have died by developing hives in their throat and choking on them while they sleep.

Just like food, you can have allergies to certain chemicals, including allergy medications. If you take something like an antihistamine and you happen to be allergic, then there is the possibility of death.

That’s why it is very important to only take what your doctor recommends and prescribes and to take it how they recommend.

If you ask your doctor the question “What are the long-term health risks to taking antihistamines and allergy drugs?” then he will have no answer for you. Doctors simply don’t know because they cannot predict the future. Research on most of these allergy drugs has not been completed yet. The only reason they are on the market is because not many people died from taking it and there were few hospitalizations.

It would also be very scary if your child turns out to be allergic to an OTC allergy medication

Effective, Natural, and Safe Alternatives to Antihistamines

This site is full of methods in your lifestyle that can treat the root cause of your allergies. Many people don’t consider that nutrient deficiencies can cause and worsen allergies and sensitivities. If you simply learn how to fix these problems in your health, you can treat or eliminate your allergy symptoms.

A few things that you can do right now to reduce ALL symptoms of allergies can be started with your lifestyle.

My number one recommendation is to avoid alcohol as best as you can. Alcohol worsens allergy symptoms considerably, from food to seasonal allergies. This socially-acceptable drug can harm your immune system in small doses. If anything, try to avoid binge drinking because this is especially harmful in ways that we could go on for days.

Quercetin with Bromelain: A Highly Effective, Non-Addictive and Natural Antihistamine

I have switched from my OTC antihistamine to organic quercetin and it has been working wonderfully for me. Quercetin is a natural ingredient sourced from real food and it can be extremely effective for allergies during your busy day. Your body does not develop a harsh dependency for it like it will with unnatural allergy drugs like Benadryl or Zyrtec.

In addition to its anti-allergy benefits, naturally-sourced quercetin also provides a clean boost of energy and mental clarity for a few hours after taking it. This is why so many energy drinks and tablets are incorporating quercetin into its ingredients list because they are trying to adapt to a safer and more natural ingredients list that actually works for the long term.

This is the best quercetin supplement that I’ve tried by far and you can check the best price I’ve found here. It incorporates Bromelain, an allergy enzyme, into its ingredients for added efficiency. Bromelain helps digest your food, destroys intestinal parasites, and breaks down histamine and allergens in your blood. It works so well for me and I can’t believe that I was taking dirty Zyrtec for so long!

quercetin with bromelain to combat the long term risks of antihistamines

Such a beneficial supplement for allergies. It helps my allergy symptoms, digestion, and boosts my energy and mental clarity!

Probiotics Also Help Your Allergies Tremendously at Their Core

Another way that you can treat your allergies naturally is by finding an effective probiotic that suits your unique body’s needs. Make sure that this probiotic is well-reviewed and can survive stomach acid because many probiotic supplements are actually an ineffective placebo. One that you guys highly recommend is this one. It is praised around the world and reviewed to dramatically change people’s health. Probiotics may be the future of medicine.

probiotics alternative to antihistamines

This probiotic supplement is well-reviewed. Click the image for the cheapest price!


Organic MSM Crystals to Cure Your Possible Sulfur Deficiency

You also need to consider some common mineral deficiencies that humans face uniquely to our generation. This generation of humans suffers from magnesium, silica, and sulfur deficiencies because our soils have been depleted of these essential nutrients and we can no longer properly obtain them through fresh foods.

natural alternatives to allergy drugs

Everyone says they feel amazing after taking this stuff. Click for the cheapest price!

Since sulfur is essential for immune health and treating allergic response, it is recommended to try an organic sulfur supplement that treats allergies and a sluggish immune system. MSM is my most recommended product because it has helped me tremendously with my sulfur deficiency and you guys message me every day that this stuff made your allergy symptoms disappear. MSM is biologically available sulfur that can easily be absorbed into your body. This brand makes a huge difference in my health and it is way better than any other that I’ve tried. Many of you recommend it as well.


I am always here for you, so if you have a question or something to add about the long-term effects of overusing allergy drugs and antihistamines, please leave me a comment below.

Talk to you soon,



  1. Thanks for your sincere efforts.I am a teacher from Swat, have been suffering from allergies.I have used every type of antihistamine from time to time. I also use steroid sprays for 10 years I have this problem. Such is the case with my children all are allergic. I am worried what to do? I am disappointed with doctors because the symptoms are growing worst. I have headaches and constipation and have no option but take those things. l would like to be informed about the information in the field of allergies and would thankful for your suggestions.

    1. Author

      Hey there,
      I sympathize with your issue of suffering with the downward spiral of allergy and antihistamine medication. The side effects often cause more problems than their intended beneficial purpose and there doesn’t seem to be a way to prevent the side effect symptoms. This is especially true for steroids and steroid nasal sprays because they cause physical changes to your body. My obvious advise to you is going to be to try to stop taking these medications. I have been through the same struggle as you, and I recommend switching to a natural antihistamine like quercetin and a non-steroid natural nasal spray with water and xylitol. This will help you get through the withdrawal symptoms and live a normal and healthy life. Let me know more about your situation and what you think!

  2. All my life I’ve only been allergic to a couple antibiotics and raw corn silk (yeah, weird, I know). Then about 2.5 years ago we found a dog and ended up becoming his new owners. Ever since then I have been getting wicked sinus issues every 2 or 3 months. No infections, just super stuffy and runny at the same time as well as insane itching in my sinuses. If it was just the runny or stuffy nose I could deal, but the itching inside my face drives me completely insane. I have never had any issues with our other 2 dogs that we have had for 5+ years. I started taking antihistamines about 6 months ago or so, I do switch it up from time to time because I become resistant to things fairly quickly. Currently I’m taking 10mg of loradatine nightly. I notice immediately the next morning if I forget to take them because my nose goes haywire. I’m just curious, would a probiotic or the MSM help with what I believe is allergies to a particular dog dander?

    1. Author

      Hey Ann,
      I have allergies to dogs as well, and a very similar experience so perhaps I could give you some helpful advice. For me, I am only allergic to certain breeds of dogs and I will most likely react to one with shorter hair. I’ve had contact with dogs with long fur and didn’t experience any allergy symptoms whatsoever. But with shorter haired dogs, I will get an itchy face and sneeze uncomfortably within hours to contact with the dog or the dog’s home. The facial itching is unbearable for me as well, but an antihistamine seems to do the job. Whenever I visit one of my family members who have a short-haired dog, an antihistamine usually does the trick. If I don’t have quercetin (which works well and is natural) I don’t mind the OTC antihistamine because taking it is much better than suffering.
      It seems like you definitely have a dependency on Claritin because of the withdrawal symptoms you have described. Keep in mind that chronic use of antihistamines will make your legitimate allergies worse slowly over time as your immune system relies on and expects the supplementation of antihistamines. A probiotic may help your allergies, you should be taking some form of one regardless for your general health anyway, but it won’t make a huge impact on your dog allergy symptoms. Organic MSM crystals, however, should. The natural sulfur will be a relief for your immune system and it should begin to heal to the state it should be at. Then, you will be able to determine if your dog allergy is legitimate or not due to your DNA or just a symptom of nutritional deficiency. Many people are deficient in sulfur, which may cause inappropriate allergic reactions by your immune system. Let me know more about what you think!

  3. I’m wondering what would be a good alternative for a child. My daughter is 29.5 kg. She takes 5mg cetirizine and 5mg montelukast every night for the past 2 years. It helps about 75% of her symptoms. Her allergist wanted to also use fluticasone furoate, but that clearly was contraindicated on the packaging against prepubescent ages. It made me question if she should be taking her current medications as well. It sounds as if it may be causing her bedwetting still at age 9. But do these herbal supplements have side effects? How do we figure out the proper dosing? Certainly plants have been around longer than many medications, however used improperly you can overdose on anything. Nor do we necessarily know what the long term side effects are on excessive use either, which could occur if we don’t know what the proper doses are. It kind of sounds like the best option is her to suffer through her allergies. She’s very allergic to dust mites and mildly allergic to pet dander, plants, and trees. All seasons. I wish her some help with it, hence the current allergy meds. However it sounds like it will cause her more problems down the road. But it’s so hard for her to sleep with all the sneezing and itching. And, her body has a stronger reaction without it. Contact from a horse would cause itching where a year later (after starting meds months prior) and forgetting them over the weekend due to a trip to her grandparents house, the same contact with a horse now has a reaction of hives! Seems to be such a pickle she’s in. Any insight from an outsider would be appreciated.

    1. Author

      Hey Amanda,
      That sounds so horrible for your little one, and thanks so much for providing your insight and perspective for her. It sounds like she has severe allergic reactions to many things, which may be a sign of deficiency. It’s surprising to hear that she is taking all these antihistamines because the long term risks of taking them haven’t fully been established by research. In regards to your questions, I recommend these natural supplements because they treat a few of the common foundational causes of allergies. MSM crystals, for instance, provide your body with bioavailable sulfur, which is a very common deficiency in babies. I would highly recommend supplementing a bit of it for your daughter. Let me know some more about what you think! Thanks a lot for coming!

  4. Good day 🙂
    I’ve been drinking ceterizine almost 9 months. Sometimes I suffered in difficulty of breathing so antihistamine was my remedy to get rid of it. I am afraid everytime I encountered this. Please give some advice what are the natural remedies. Thanks.

    1. Author

      Hey Princess,
      Is there a Zyrtec drink that I am unaware of? Anyways, have you tried a natural antihistamine like quercetin? How do you respond to its effectiveness? Also, you should include some more information on what causes the difficult breathing. Is it seasonal allergies? Maybe asthma? Hope to hear from you soon.

    >So I took diphenhydramine HCI 50mg Equate (otc) heavily only stopping for periods of no more than 3-5 weeks over around a 2 year period. I have horrible, horrible idiopathic insomnia since BIRTH.
    Having never seen any side effects/warnings I had increased my dose to an unhealthy amount on a nearly ever day basis. Not even for the euphoric effects, just to sleep because my insomnia is so bad. Note: During this time I had been to a PCP and had had blood work done. My levels came back all clear, I told her I was taking them and that I thought it an unhealthy dosage and she didn’t bat an eye so neither did I (During taking the diphenhydramine HCI from age 18-20 [starting and stopping nearly exactly 2 years to the day] my memory became worse than a 90 year olds -no exaggeration, I work with the elderly-. I attributed that to the insomnia itself).
    >However recently, I quit for three reasons; I began to have urinary retention/urethra pain, I was severely dehydrated, and as a 20 year old college student it became costly to buy the pills at the rate I was taking them. So I quit cold turkey November 4th 2017. I never had the desire to take them again because, I don’t have an addictive personality. I had tried melatonin but it did nothing and even now as I write this it’s 1AM, so I’ve been choosing to soldier through my insomnia. I didn’t notice anything for maybe 2 days. Then, I started having vulvar itching. I thought it was BV so I treated it as BV and my life seemed okay for the 10 days following that. Then, the vulvar itching came back. I thought it was a Yeast infection this time and I treated it for that but nothing helped. Then I thought it was eczema because I started getting eczema patches on my neck, chest and pits as well. Simultaneously I was trying to induce my period so I maxed out on Vitamin C. After the Vitamin C. I ended up with what seemed like eczema on my chest, vulva, pits, and neck, I had inflamed sinuses, and my memory had gotten even worse than it had been. I thought ALL of this was stress from work, and I had linked the sinus inflammation to the vitamin C overdose because it had happened once before. I have had this itching for about two months now. The sinus inflammation dissipated about 3 weeks ago, the eczema about the same time a little later maybe. What I thought was eczema on my vulva (because of skin peeling) dissipated too and I still went to my Gyne who said everything was normal, no stds/infection. And since the itching had subsided (mostly) and there was no scarring or redness (I was treating with aloe and vagicaine) I thought I was okay. But 3 days after that the itching worsened with a vengeance and as I monitored it I noticed where the itching mainly was had turned white and the skin was just… Extremely smooth/firm, so I figured it was what I had been dreading (due to how hard it can be for a doctor to know of it diagnose it, and treat it, lichen sclerosus. Which has been linked to an overactive immune system/chronic inflammation. Before any of this I had never had a Vag/Vulvar issue in my life. No homormonal disorders, no STDs, no UTIs, none of that. So I thought that the Lichen sclerosus was because of the vitamin C putting my immune system into overdrive. It wasn’t until I was reading into temporary relief for lichen sclerosus (to hold me over until I can get to a proper dermatologist) and saw Benadryl/Diphenhydramine (antihistamines in general) recommended to relieve the itching “the drowsy medications work best,” it said. That brought me to this article about antihistamines which taught me they’re a form of immunosuppressants. Which made me look up the side effects of stopping antihistamines……. The first thing that popped up was literally “Stopping antihistamines caused unbearable itching” I almost, bleeping, cried. Because I have been suffering with this itch for two months (it’s dying down because I have been sticking with aloe a slowly but surely decreasing dosage of hydrocortisone 1% 1-3 times a day (because I still have to be mindful of treatment costs, I’m broke). Apparently stopping antihistamines cold turkey can cause you a number of side effects but most commonly hives/rashes/severe itching. It took some people 4-8 weeks for it to stop. I’m a little over 8 weeks bug that’s because my dumb self added an immuno-BOOSTER (not regulator, there’s a difference) which has caused this to last way longer than need be. I just want to know since I’ve quit cold turkey should I just stick it out a little longer to allow my immune system to get back on its own and bare the itching. Or should I try the MSM supplement? I wish I had made it to this article sooner, but nothing gave me an indication/warning that stopping the antihistamines could lead to any side effects let alone ones that can effect your daily life. I’ve spent so much money on so many things to “fix” these side effects that I didn’t know were side effects to begin with. Thank you for even making the connection between antihistamines and immune-health clearer. I don’t know why nobody thinks the two are connected including myself. My mom is serious about homeopathic/simplistic/organic remedies and honestly they’ve been more effective than anything else. Just realizing I can walk into my doctors with some clarity and possibilities of causes and a more targeted range of treatments I’m in a place of peace I haven’t seen for months now. So thank-you.

    1. Author

      Hey there,
      Thanks a lot for your story and some really valuable insights from a personal perspective. I love to know more about other peoples’ long-term effects of antihistamines on their health to see how it all affects us differently. Please let me know how your antihistamine journey is going and what natural allergy treatment really works for you.

  6. Pro15 has turmeric=I have thrombocytopenia. Is there another Probiotic you would recommend that wouldn’t deplete platelets?

    1. Author

      Hey Frankie,
      I understand that could be a problem for you. I recommend any kind of probiotic supplement that has a base ingredients list with Bifidobacterium, rather than Lactobacillus strains, which could raise histamine levels in your body, which promote inflammation. That’s basically what I recommend and different brands really aren’t different from their ingredients list. Let me know what you think!

    1. Author

      I am not a physician, but I am an environmental health researcher attempting to get a PhD. I am extremely interested in the research behind allergies and allergy medications. Since I have severe allergies myself, I want to talk about the long term effects of antihistamines and allergy drugs because they have been more addictive and harmful to me than many have the stigma for recreational addictive drugs. Excuse my lack of experience, but I love sharing the knowledge I receive from schooling and independent research of scientific journals on the development of allergy science and treatments.

      1. Sir
        I’m nazir from afghanistan I am suffering from allergy can I ask some questions about allergy

        1. Author

          Yes, of course you can ask me whatever you like and I will answer. That’s why I constantly beg people to leave me comments and talk to me. It can get pretty lonely in the allergy universe.

  7. I have always wondered if there were long term risks for taking antihistamines and allergy drugs that you find in the stores. They always claim that they help so much, but we always hear nothing about the long-term consequences of taking them. I agree that it could be dangerous using one of these newer generation drugs every day. Thanks!

    1. Author

      First generation antihistamines are particularly dangerous because we know the damage that they can do. Like usual, I’ll always recommend that we stick to natural methods that humans have evolved with other thousands of years.

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