Interrupting Step 4
Once the histamine and other chemicals have been released, there are two strategies that may be used. One is to not allow the histamine to interact with the cells of the body. An anti-histamine does this. The other is to go ahead and allow the histamine to attach to the cells of the body, but make it such that the cells don't react to the histamine. The anti-inflammatory medicines do this.
The anti-histamines come in sedating and non-sedating types. The most common of the sedating types is diphenhydramine (Benadryl) which may be purchased over-the-counter. The non-sedating types are obtained by prescription only. These include loratidine (Claritin), fexofenadine hydrochloride (Allegra), and others. Of note, the older non-sedating medications such as terfenadine (Seldane) and astemizole (Hismanal) may have life-threatening complications when taken with certain medications including some common antibiotics. The newer non-sedating antihistamines do not seem to have this problem. In fact, because Allegra is essentially the same as Seldane only without the risk of heart complications, the FDA has recently looked into taking Seldane completely off the market.
Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays keep the nasal and sinus tissues from reacting to the allergens. Most of these medications are steroids and are obtained by prescription only. These are not the body-building type steroids, nor are they the type of nasal sprays that can you can get addicted to. Therefore, these are commonly used for many months at a time with the main side effect being an occasional bloody nose. They are similar to the cromolyn mentioned above in that the anti-inflammatory nasal sprays do not work right away. Therefore, they must be taken on a daily basis regardless of whether the child is having symptoms or not.