General Question

ETpro's avatar

Do many allergy medicines compromise the immune system?

Asked by ETpro (34472points) April 17th, 2010

It’s allergy season again. Thanks to an unusually cold, wet winter triggered by a strong El Niño current, all the trees this year blossomed at the same time, flooding the air with pollen. Many allergy sufferers are having a miserable spring.

There are numerous OTC and prescription drugs on the market to help fight off the effects of allergens like pollen. They work by suppressing the body’s natural reaction to histamines and/or leukotrienes. But histamines and leukotrienes are a natural part of the body’s immune response to foreign materials invading it. How much does suppressing them also suppress normal immune defenses?

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51 Answers

marinelife's avatar

This article seems to indicate it may be a problem depending upon the medication.

dpworkin's avatar

Antihistamines won’t compromise your immune function. There is some feeling by some people that exposing a child’s immune system to dirt, pollen, etc. when he or she is young may result in fewer allergies, but that’s the only relationship I’ve ever heard of.

dpworkin's avatar

Here is the WEB MD Page.

janbb's avatar

On a slightly different but related tack, I just read somewhere that eating local honey can counter the effects of seasonal allergies. Anyone else heard of this?

dpworkin's avatar

Are you the local honey, @janbb, or am I getting something confused?

janbb's avatar

I think you’re the local horny . Shouldn’t you be doing your homework or at least practicing your haftorah?.

gailcalled's avatar

My brother-in-law now has 17 honey bee hives and has, by accident, become the local expert. A spoonful of local honey is, apparently, one of the elixirs of life.

janbb's avatar

Maybe you need some of the “elixir of life” @dpworkin ?

janbb's avatar

Getting back to the original question which was so rudely derailed by me, I know that anti-biotics compromise the immune systerm but have never heard that about antihistamines.

gailcalled's avatar

To @janbb: The only person I know who can use “haftorah” without raising a sweat. I’m raising a glass of Manechevitz (with honey) to you

janbb's avatar

L’chaim!

dpworkin's avatar

She’s just making fun of me because in June my kids will have their B’nai Mitzvot, and she wasn’t invited.

janbb's avatar

I’m not?

dpworkin's avatar

Auggie is going to kill us.

dpworkin's avatar

@Rarebear Denks, boychik.

ETpro's avatar

@marinelife That is just what I was concerned about. Thanks.

@dpworkin I had no want of dirt and grime as a kid. Didn’t work. :-) PS, thanks for the WebMD link.

@janbb I mentioned the local honey cure in an answer yesterday. My wife told me about it. She saw it on TV. Sorry, I’ve no idea what program

Rarebear's avatar

There are many problems with the article that @marinelife posted. Not the least of which is that the author is a computer programmer, not a physician. I’ll go through the flaws of the article point by point if you insist.

The answer to the question of the OP, for regular allergies, there is minimal risk for regular medications.

ETpro's avatar

Thanks, Rarebear. I was hoping for some professional advice. I appreciate your chiming in.

No need to elaborate unless for the benefit of others. I have a pretty sensitive nose for BS and thought the link seemed a bit like conspiracy theory.

janbb's avatar

Seeing the Mazel Tov right after “Auggie is going to kill us” was pretty funny!

janbb's avatar

I think I actually read about it – the honey prophylactic – in the Times; I will try to find it soon.

ETpro's avatar

@janbb I hope you can find a link. I’d like to read up on it. Good night.

gailcalled's avatar

The jury is out on the local honey issue. Apparently for a few people, the honey may contain allergens from various pollens and bee venom. It is rare but real.

Some folks consider a teaspoon of honey to be akin to the fountain of youth. I think, however, that you can rub honey on a mild skin burn. Just watch out for the ants.

My local bro-in-law, with his 17 hives, has a bias.

dpworkin's avatar

He counts his hives? As they break out?

gailcalled's avatar

Uticaria? How thoughtful.

dpworkin's avatar

It salves my conscience to be thoughtful once in a while.

gailcalled's avatar

Manna live. It’s too early for this.

dpworkin's avatar

I’ll try not to drop any more balms.

gailcalled's avatar

At least not in Gilead.

janbb's avatar

Oh honies, bee good!

janbb's avatar

@ETpro Here’s the seasonal honey reference. It was in a letter to the NY Times:

“In “Allergy-Free New York” (Op-Ed, April 6), Thomas Leo Ogren makes several good points about reducing the misery of people with seasonal allergies. Besides a variety of trees, there is a simpler way for allergy sufferers to find relief: local honey. This remedy (predating Claritin and its ilk) has long been recognized around the world.

Honeybees collect pollen from the very trees that are causing all the sneezing and runny noses. By taking a spoonful of honey daily, approaching and during allergy season, you inoculate yourself against the offending pollen and greatly reduce your allergic reaction.

And now, honeybees are legal in New York City. Given the high incidence (and cost) of allergy-induced asthma, local honey could prove to be a great boon, all the while sweetening your tea or straight from a spoon. Mary Poppins had a point.”

Christine Lehner
Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., April 6, 2010

ETpro's avatar

@janbb Thanks so much. My son is with us for the weekend and suffering terribly from allergies. I’ll have to fix him up with a dose of local honey.

Rarebear's avatar

@ETpro You’d have more effectiveness giving him a loratadine tablet.

ETpro's avatar

@Rarebear Doc dad has him on Cetirizine HCl (Zertec) 10mg, Dextromethorphan HBr 20mg, and Guaifenesin 400mg. I figure a bit of honey in the tea he takes that with won’t hurt.

Rarebear's avatar

Last two won’t do anything, really, but the first one will help. The honey will taste good, but won’t help his allergies, sadly.

ETpro's avatar

@Rarebear I guess individual outcomes vary. I am a longtime allergy sufferer but seem to be weathering this bad season quite well. But Cetirizine works better for me than Loratadine and neither does the whole job. However, when symptons flare up, the combo of Dextromethorphan HBr and Guaifenesin brings rapid, if short-lived relief. It worked for my son too, because the Cetirizine takes time to kick in, but the Dextromethorphan HBr and Guaifenesin started working shortly after he got here Saturday afternoon.

janbb's avatar

@ETpro What are the brand names for those meds? My younger son often has terrible allergy flare-ups when he comes to our house as does my daughter-in-law. We often wonder if have a toxic house!

Rarebear's avatar

@janbb The Dextro…you can get in any OTC product that has a “DM” on it, like Robitussin DM. And Guaifenesin is Mucinex.

Rarebear's avatar

@ETpro If you want an effective nonmedication way to deal with allergies, do hypertonic nasal saline irrigation. I’ll send instructions if you’re interested.

janbb's avatar

@Rarebear Thanks for the med info and is the other using the neti pot?

gailcalled's avatar

Neti will be really painful if you have narrow eustacean tubes. How do you discover that? Try the Neti pot and see how much pain you have.

janbb's avatar

Oh -and I’ve been already nervous about trying it.

gailcalled's avatar

Try a baby rubber syringe and a mild saline solution. Squirt up each nostril (lean over sink to avoid dribble effect.)

janbb's avatar

thanks.

Rarebear's avatar

@janbb Yes, but I don’t like neti pots. I prefer people to use either a water-pic like device or a rubber bulb syringe.

dpworkin's avatar

Water-pic? Eeyouch!

Rarebear's avatar

@dpworkin Actually, it’s pretty good. This is what I use. It’s painless and is over in about 3 minutes.
http://www.hydromedonline.com/hp.html

ETpro's avatar

@Rarebear Next time mine really flares up, I will give that a try. Thanks all.

@janbb You might get the house checked to see if there are mold spores in the air or any common allergens.

ETpro's avatar

@janbb All clear, heh? Must be the local flora, then. Too bad. That’s much more difficult to eliminate.

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