Managing children allergies

Managing children's allergies with oral antihistamines

Because it is almost impossible to completely avoid exposure to allergens, oral antihistamines continue to serve as the first line pharmacological treatment for allergic rhinitis.

Make sure you choose a non-sedating medication

Oral antihistamines available on the market are classified into two groups; first-generation (sedating) and second-generation (non-sedating) antihistamines. Both are generally just as effective when it comes to allergic rhinitis symptoms relief but their side effects differ significantly.

Sedating antihistamines aggravate learning problems associated with allergies

Potential adverse effects of sedating antihistamines (including drowsiness, sleepiness and decreased cognitive processing) have been shown to aggravate the already considerable learning problems associated with allergies.

Additional drawbacks of sedating antihistamines:

Multiple daily doses are required to provide 24-hour relief. In school-age children, this may be a major disadvantage.

Even given at bedtime, sedating antihistamines' adverse effects may not always have disappeared by the morning.

In contrast to the depressive effects they cause, young children may experience stimulatory effects, such as irritability, excitation, hyperactivity or insomnia.

Non-sedating antihistamines are an essential advantage for allergic children

Eliminating sedative and cognitive effects is crucial in both children and adults. (30) Consequently, non-sedating antihistamines such as Claritin Kids®, are a preferable and safer choice for treating allergic rhinitis and skin itch and hives in children. Studies have shown a greater improvement in learning performance with tasks requiring alertness and focused attention in children with seasonal allergic rhinitis who were taking non-sedating antihistamines compared to children who were not taking any antihistamine or were taking a sedative antihistamine**.

Children antihistamine sedation profile at recommended dosage
Claritin® (loratadine) Non-Drowsy
Aerius® (desloratadine) Non-Drowsy
Reactine* (cetirizine) Non-Drowsy
Benadryl* (diphenhydramine) Drowsy

* All other trademarks are the property of their respective owner(s)

**Vuurman E.F.P.M, van Veggel L.M.A., Uiterwijk M. M. I., et al. Seasonal allergic rhinitis and antihistamine effect on children's learning. Annals of Allergy, 1993;71:121-126