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Allergy Proc. 1988 Nov-Dec;9(6):649-63.

Non-sedating antihistamines.

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Allergic Diseases Section, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Antihistamines are effective therapy against histamine-mediated conditions, including seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis and chronic urticaria. They may also have a therapeutic role to play in asthma. Until recently all antihistamines produced some degree of drowsiness, as well as having anticholinergic side effects. Several non-sedating antihistamines have now been developed. Evidence suggests that their freedom from central nervous system effects is due to their lack of penetration of the blood-brain barrier. They also have no appreciable binding to cholinergic receptors. Two of these non-sedating antihistamines, terfenadine and astemizole, have novel binding characteristics with the histamine H1 receptor, exhibiting irreversible binding at higher concentrations. In humans astemizole has a remarkably long half-life of elimination, on the order of 12 to 18 days for metabolites. Clinical trials have demonstrated that these newer antihistamines are as effective as classical antihistamines and that they have no greater incidence of central nervous system or anticholinergic side effects than placebo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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