Q: What are the most important differences to note between antihistamines and decongestants?

A: An antihistamine is generally used to alleviate allergy symptoms such as runny nose, itchy/watery eyes and sneezing, while decongestants are medications that primarily help relieve sinus congestion symptoms. These medications can be helpful over-the-counter combatants to the signs and symptoms of many types of allergies.

Pharmacy Tip
When selecting an allergy medication or decongestant, its vital to read the ingredient labels and consult with your pharmacist before starting treatment.

Q: Specific to allergy, what are the side effects and precautions of each type of medication?

A: Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants are generally well tolerated. Antihistamines may cause drowsiness, dizziness, and dry eyes, mouth and nose. Blurred vision, urinary symptoms and constipation are also possible. Decongestants may increase blood pressure, elevate heart rate, cause restlessness and insomnia. Patients with high blood pressure or heart disease are usually not candidates for oral decongestant therapy. I recommend speaking with your pharmacist or medical provider to determine compatibility with current medications and disease-state profile.

Q: How often do you see people confusing which type of medication they need, particularly during heavy allergy season?

A: With several options, the differences between medications, as well as brand and generic names, often add to the difficulty in choosing one to help relieve their specific allergy symptoms. Products are frequently selected by patients that are either non-specific or not appropriate for providing the relief needed.

Q: What advice would you give allergy sufferers in regards to using these for relief?

A: The best overall approach to treating allergies is to choose a medication or combination product that matches a specific allergy or congestion symptom. I encourage patients to use their Sams Club Pharmacist to help guide them in selecting the most appropriate product that is specific to their signs or symptoms.

To get the most from your prescription and over-the-counter medications, be sure you know the following:

  • Name of your medication
  • Why you are taking it
  • How it might make you feel
  • Whether it conflicts with anything else you take

Regardless of where you had them filled, you can bring all of your prescriptions into Sams Club for a free med checkup.

Would you like to share an experience you had at the Sams Club Pharmacy?Send us comments or feedback at hlms@samsclub.com, or write to us at: Healthy Living Made Simple, 1703 Phyllis St., Suite 202, Bentonville, AR 72712.