Is It Safe To Mix Allergy Medications?

Whether it's pollen, dust, or pet dander, allergens can cause some annoying symptoms for those who have allergies. If you have allergies, you are not alone. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA), every year, more than 50 million Americans have allergic reactions to a variety of things. Allergy symptoms can range from itchiness, hives, sneezing, watery eyes, a runny nose, and in some cases, reactions can even be life threatening (via Cleveland Clinic).

You may be wondering what exactly causes these uncomfortable allergic reactions. As it turns out, these responses happen when the body defends itself against a substance that it perceives as a threat, but usually, the substance is harmless. When the body reacts to the substance, it releases histamine which causes the unwanted symptoms that come along with allergies, according to Cleveland Clinic. Other than avoiding allergens altogether, medications can be used to help treat allergy symptoms.

How allergy medications work

While some decide to tough it out and forgo allergy medications, others use them daily. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several types of over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications available in multiple forms. Antihistamines work by blocking the histamines that cause hives, a runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. Some well-known brands of antihistamines are Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, Xyzal, and Benadryl. Antihistamines are available as pills, liquids, nasal sprays, eyedrops.

Decongestants provide relief of congested sinuses and nasal passages. Many brands of allergy meds utilize a "D" in the name of the medication to indicate that it's a decongestant, like Claritin-D, for example (per Mayo Clinic). If your allergic reaction involves skin irritation, a corticosteroid cream may be used to get relief. Corticosteroids like Nasonex and Flonase, work by suppressing inflammation caused by allergens. When over-the-counter medicines are not providing relief, a prescription like Singulair, can help by blocking leukotrienes that cause symptoms. Some people use a combination of allergy meds to get relief, but is it safe?

Mixing allergy medicines can be dangerous

Since different allergy medications work in different ways to stop allergy symptoms, you might think it's safe to take more than one. In some cases, it is deemed safe to mix allergy medications. For example, if someone is using antihistamine eye drops and an oral antihistamine at the same time, it is considered safe, according to GoodRx. However, the combination of certain allergy medications can cause complications and even death.

Combining different types of oral antihistamines can cause an antihistamine overdose. An overdose can cause heart palpitations, poor balance, irritability, dry mouth, and in severe cases, cardiac arrest (via GoodRx). According to Dr. Susan Besser, a primary care provider at Mercy Medical Center, most allergy medicines should not be taken together. Rather, she recommends it's better to stick with one and take it daily to best prevent symptoms. Even if you are taking over-the-counter allergy medicines, it is best to ask your doctor which treatment options are safest.