St. Louis College of Pharmacy
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Preparing for Allergy Season

Published on 03 April 2015

 As the flowers and trees begin to bloom, millions of Americans will be reaching for over-the-counter allergy medications. One of the largest culprits in spring-time allergies is hay fever. Nearly 19 million American adults and 7 million children suffer from symptoms every year. Before taking that first antihistamine, Clark Kebodeaux, Pharm.D., BCACP, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy has several pieces of advice.

First, talk with a pharmacist before taking any antihistamine, even if you took the same medication last year. Pharmacists are medication experts with the training to ensure patients receive the most benefit from their medicine.

“Antihistamines are very effective at reducing common allergy symptoms like runny noses, sneezing, itchy eyes and congestion,” Kebodeaux says. “However, like all medication, it can interact with other medications or supplements, which could change the effectiveness of the antihistamines or trigger side effects.”

The pharmacist will ask about diet and other medications. Certain antibiotics can increase the effects of antihistamines. Some antacids, taken too quickly after the antihistamine, can reduce the benefit patients receive from the allergy medication.

“Patients even need to watch out for that morning glass of fruit juice,” Kebodeaux says. “Orange juice can significantly reduce the effectiveness of one kind of  once-a-day antihistamine. Patients should also avoid alcohol.”

What may appear to be allergy symptoms might be anything from bronchitis to the flu or a cold. There is even a chance it could be the first signs of asthma.

“In some cases, the pharmacist may not recommend any medication and instead suggest that the patient see their physician,” Kebodeaux says.

More information from Dr. Kebodeaux:

  • The biggest difference between all the antihistamines on the shelf is how often patients take the medicine and their side effects.

“In general, these medications you see heavily advertised every spring and fall will make patients less drowsy,” Kebodeaux says. “However, every patient is different and less publicized formulations of medication may be more effective.”

  • One of the most common side effects to antihistamines is a dry mouth.

“Staying hydrated while taking these medications is extremely important,” Kebodeaux says. “Not only could the extra water help with the dry mouth, staying hydrated will help your body to maximize the effectiveness of the medication.”

  • Not all antihistamines are the same.

“The packaging may say it treats the same symptoms, but they may react very differently for patients with pre-existing conditions or when combined with other medications,” Kebodeaux says. “For some patients, especially the elderly, they may be more prone to medication side effects and there may be a better medication option.”

About St. Louis College of Pharmacy: For more than 150 years, St. Louis College of Pharmacy has been committed to educating the best pharmacists in the United States. The region’s only independent college of pharmacy, St. Louis College of Pharmacy is the third oldest continuously operating and 10th largest college of pharmacy in America. The student body is comprised of 1,400 students, 40 percent of which are minority or multicultural. The students come to the College from 31 states and 10 countries. The College admits students directly from high school and accepts transfer students and graduates from other colleges and universities in the sophomore and junior years of the undergraduate program and the first year of the professional program. Students earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) with an integrated Bachelor of Science degree in a seven-year curriculum. An education at the College opens up the world to graduates for a career in a wide range of practice settings. Graduates have a 100 percent job placement rate. The campus is transforming to better fit the needs of students, faculty, and staff. This summer, a new six-story, 213,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art academic and research building opened. Construction is underway for a seven-story student center, residence hall, and recreation facility scheduled for completion in December 2016. When not in class, students can participate in more than 60 organizations, fraternities, intramurals, and sports. The College competes in 12 NAIA Division I sports. College alumni practice throughout the nation and in 13 different countries, providing a strong network to assist students with their goals. Additional information is available at