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.
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:
- Impaired motor function
- Dry mouth and sinuses
- Blurred vision
- Urinary retention
- 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:
- Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- Terfenadine (No longer available)
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.
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.
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.
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 the cheapest I’ve ever seen.
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,