Are your allergies making you miserable? If the itchy eyes and nose, scratchy throat and sneezing that comes with seasonal or year-round allergies is getting you down, you may want to seek relief from one or more of the over-the-counter and prescription drugs available today that can make you feel better. But before you take your next dose, the experts recommend that you get the facts so you can avoid mixing medications that can cause dangerous interactions.

What You Should Know

When your allergies act up, you are probably desperate for the relief you can get in the form of a variety of allergy medicines. But did you know:

  1. Different products may contain the same active ingredients and that too much of any one thing can make you sick?
  2. Further, some medications may counteract the effect of other ones.
  3. Finally, even the things you eat and drink, when mixed with certain drugs, can have a negative effect.

Protect Yourself

So you may wonder how you can protect yourself. The key, experts say, is to get the facts up front. Here are some important steps you can take to keep your allergies in check and still stay safe in the process:

  • Provide your doctor with a list of all of your health conditions and all of the medicines you take (including both prescribed and over-the-counter), as well as all vitamins, minerals and alternative treatment options.

  • Read the precautions, warning labels and inserts on all of your medications.

  • Be aware of the active ingredients in all of your drugs so will know right away if there is any potential overlap.

  • Find out how to take your medications safely. Should they be taken with water or food? Do they need to be taken at a certain time of the day?

  • Ask your pharmacist about possible side effects on any new medications and if there are any risks.

Things to Avoid

While the range of possible medication interactions can be very broad, there are a few common problems that are easy to avoid. For instance:

  • Be aware that antihistamines can make you tired, so don’t take them with when you will be driving or operating machinery. If possible, save them to take at bedtime.

  • Avoid drinking alcohol when you take medications, since alcohol can intensify the effect.

  • Find out if there is any type of analgesic (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) contained in your allergy medicine. If so, you should avoid taking a second analgesic, since taking too much can cause serious organ damage over time.

  • Steer clear of products containing decongestants if you have high blood pressure that isn’t well controlled, since the medication can elevate this problem even more, putting you at great risk.

The Bottom Line

The range of possible side effects and interactions you can experience can be numerous, so the bottom line is for you to take control of your health. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and make sure you understand what each medication is for and how it works. The good news is that a little education can go a long way, and if you take your medications as prescribed, hopefully you can stay safe and at the same time, will keep your allergy symptoms away.