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FDA: Be Cautious When Taking Allergy Medication

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical Editor
Some allergy sufferers say this year’s symptoms are worse than ever and sticking around longer than in years past. But now there’s something else to consider — the side effects from allergy medication.

The Food and Drug Administration is concerned.

Allergy medications are big sellers these days as pollen counts are sky high, especially trees. Grasses are starting to creep up as well.

So you’re in misery and the map to relief points to the medicine aisle at the grocery store. Lots of products work well, but there may be a price for that relief — medically it’s something called “sedation.” You may call it dull and stupid, but that can be an especially big problem when you get behind the wheel of a car.

Specifically, the FDA says be cautious because those drugs can interfere with concentration, alertness and attention span — occasionally to the point where you may not even realize that your brain is in slow motion.

Also a problem is side effects that last well after the medication has supposedly worn off — even into the next day.

Allergy medicine may not mix with other medicines. They certainly do not mix with alcohol. And more does not equal better — follow the directions — don’t gobble pills.

How about Zyrtec, Claritin and other products that aren’t supposed to make you drowsy? Unfortunately about 10 percent of people are sensitive to these drugs and they can make you feel like you want to nod off. So caution there.

One suggestion is some people will take a kid’s dose of antihistamine. That way you get some relief without a high risk of side effects. You can use children’s tablets or a bit of liquid to take the edge off.

In any case, be careful with driving, climbing ladders, or doing anything else where you need to be 100 percent.

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