Your Allergy Meds Come With Hazards: Be Aware

Guideline Developed for Assessing Penicillin Allergies

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People with seasonal allergies often turn to over-the-counter and prescription medicines to relieve symptoms like coughing, sneezing, runny nose, congestion and itchy eyes, nose or throat.

But they often aren’t aware that these meds -- including antihistamines -- have as much risk for potential side effects, drug interactions and overdose as other drugs.

To manage these risks, experts offer the following safety tips.

1. Pick medicines for your specific symptoms.

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Use a decongestant if you’re congested. But only use a decongestant containing cough suppressant if you also have a cough. More meds included in a pill or potion increases the risk of drug interactions.

2. Check the active ingredients. 

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Many meds have the same active ingredients, even if they have different names or are intended to treat different conditions. Taking these together can result in an overdose.

3. More isn’t better. 

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Don’t take meds longer or in higher doses than the label recommends. Always measure the amount of liquid medicine taken using a syringe, dosing spoon or cup, rather than swigging from the bottle. Don’t use a kitchen spoon because sizes can vary.

4. Children’s dosage recommendations are serious business.

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Infants and kids should only be given medicines formulated specifically for them. Meds should be measured to the child’s weight, rather than their age.

5. Know your interactions. 

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Ask a pharmacist or health care provider about the potential drug-drug interactions of the medicines you are taking. They can help you choose meds that will not dangerously interact with one another.

6. Source and more information

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