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Health Mart: OTC Allergy Medications

Health Mart’s Christine Jacobson shares some over-the-counter allergy medication information that could help you make the best decision for your particular allergy problem. But remember, the best plan is to be sure and check with your personal healthcare provider or family pharmacist to make sure the allergy medicines you do take – either prescription or over the counter — won’t interfere with other medications you’re taking and other diseases you’re suffering.

Cold vs. Allergies:

According to Your Total Health, colds, infections, flu and allergies involve the immune system – the body’s mechanism for resisting disease and infection. The immune system produces antibodies to eliminate foreign substances.

In the case of a cold, infection or flu, the foreign bodies are harmful bacteria or viruses. The immune system attacks these invaders, which have the potential to harm the body. In the case of allergies, the body mistakes a harmless substance, such as pollen or dust, for a dangerous invader. It then launches an attack that leads to the symptoms commonly associated with allergies. Because these processes are so similar, the symptoms people experience with allergies often mimic colds.

Cold and flu symptoms generally resolve in a few days, once the body has successfully fought and conquered the invading organism. Allergy symptoms, however, may continue for as long as the person is in contact with that substance. In rare cases, allergies can cause severe allergic reactions, so it’s important to consult a physician to determine your specific allergy triggers and avoid them.

Antihistamines vs. Decongestants:

According to the University of Iowa Health Care website ( ,
decongestants relieve nasal congestion by causing blood vessels in your nose to narrow. This takes down swelling, inflammation and mucous in the nasal lining. You can buy many decongestants without a prescription. The most common decongestants are pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine.

Antihistamines calm a person, and make one drowsy as well as treating allergy symptoms. They treat sneezing, runny nose and itching and redness. Antihistamines block a chemical called histamine that’s produced by the body in response to an allergic reaction. The most commonly used nonprescription antihistamine is diphenhydramine.

Both decongestants and antihistamines have some negative side effects. If decongestants are used for too long, they cause nasal congestion to worsen. Because decongestants construct blood vessels, they are not recommended for people with heart disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma, thyroid disease, urinary retention problems or certain people with asthma or diabetes.

Always be sure to discuss your personal allergy issues with your health care provider and personal pharmacist to determine whether you should take over-the-counter or prescription decongestants and antihistamines, as combinations of these medications may cause life-threatening reactions and side effects.

To find your nearest Health Mart Pharmacy, go to or look for these pharmacies nearest you.

Morgan Health Mart Drug

109 North Commercial Street

Morgan, Utah

(801) 929-3262

Spence’s Health Mart Pharmacy

550 East 1400 North

Logan, Utah

(435) 753-8500

Cache Valley Health Mart Pharmacy

2380 North 400 East

North Logan, Utah

(435) 787-1212

Wangsgard Health Mart Pharmacy

120 North Washington Blvd

Ogden, Utah

(801) 399-4400

Mountain View Health Mart Pharmacy

1100 West 2700 North

Pleasant View, UT

(801) 786-4090

Wasatch Health Mart Pharmacy

4387 Harrison Blvd

Ogden, Utah

(801) 479-0331

Larry’s Smithfield Health Mart Pharmacy

502 So Main, Suite B

Smithfield, Utah

(435) 563-6262

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