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The Other Side: Exploring Rare Side Effects of Allergy Medications

Updated on June 7th, 2024

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Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, Pharm.D

Allergy medications play a vital role in managing symptoms and enhancing the quality of life for millions of people. However, they can also have unexpected and potentially serious side effects. This article examines some of these rare but significant side effects, offering crucial information to help you stay safe and informed.

Benadryl Can Cause Hemolytic Anemia

Benadryl (diphenhydramine), an over-the-counter antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms, has a rare side effect of causing hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia is a condition where your red blood cells are destroyed faster than your body can replace them. Red blood cells are essential because they carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. When these cells are broken down too quickly, it can lead to symptoms like fatigue, weakness, pale or yellow skin, dark urine, and shortness of breath. The first and most crucial step is to stop taking Benadryl immediately. This should be done under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Decongestants Can Cause Anxiety

Decongestants such as phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine) and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) are effective in treating allergies and upper respiratory infections. They help by reducing nasal congestion and enabling easier breathing. However, these medications can sometimes cause anxiety, particularly in individuals with panic or generalized anxiety disorders. If you have these conditions, you might need to consider alternative treatments. Options could include using saline nasal sprays, inhaling steam, or trying antihistamines that don't cause anxiety. Always consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best and safest treatment for your specific needs.

Prednisone Can Cause Psychosis

Prednisone (Rayos) is a powerful steroid medication prescribed for a range of conditions, including asthma, allergic reactions, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and various adrenal, blood, or bone marrow disorders. However, prednisone can also cause severe neuropsychiatric side effects, such as depression, mania, agitation, delirium, dementia, psychosis, and other mood and cognitive changes. While higher doses (40 mg or more) are linked to a greater risk of these symptoms, even lower doses can pose a threat. Therefore, it's crucial not to dismiss the possibility of steroid-induced psychosis in any patient taking Prednisone (Rayos).

Fexofenadine Can Cause Urinary Tract Infection

Fexofenadine (Allegra), along with medications such as antipsychotics, decongestants, and anticholinergic drugs, can lead to urine retention, increasing the risk of urinary tract infections. Instead of discontinuing these medications abruptly, stay informed about this potential side effect. You can reduce the risk of infection by taking precautions like staying well-hydrated and ensuring you fully empty your bladder each time you use the restroom. Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice and before making any changes to your medication regimen.

Azelastine Can Cause Muscle Pain

Azelastine (Astepro) nasal spray, available both by prescription and over-the-counter, effectively relieves rhinitis symptoms like sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and itchy, watery eyes from allergies. However, it may also cause unwanted effects. One rare side effect is muscle pain (myalgia). While this discomfort might resolve as your body adjusts, seeking medical advice is crucial if it persists or becomes bothersome. Your healthcare professional can provide strategies to prevent or alleviate these side effects. Always consult them with any concerns.

Explore more expert health tips and medication safety advice on the Rxless health blog. Plus, with Rxless, you can save up to 88% on your prescriptions at major pharmacies like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. Discover how it works here!

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