Notes on allergies (part 2)

June 12, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 12, 2015

At some point in the past half-decade or so, a doctor recommended that I address my allergies by taking, well, allergy medicine.

It was a simple enough thing, or so it seemed: Just swallow one pill a day. For various reasons, most of which involved convenience, I began taking the pill before bed. This worked out nicely, I thought, because at bedtime, I’m typically either at home or at a place where I’d intended to go to sleep. In other words, my pills would be with me, and, except for a planned trip, there would be no need to pack a bottle or medicine in my car or in my bag. Nor would I have to worry about arranging to have a cup of water to swallow my pills or whatnot at some point in the middle of the day.

(Forget all about the beginning of the day; I’m rarely at my best then.)

Taking allergy medicine got to seem even simpler when the pills I was taking went off prescription, so I could just buy them over the counter. But it turns out that there can be a catch, although it took me a while to notice…

Last year, doctor advised me to switch the antihistamines that I took; otherwise, they might lose their effectiveness. She recommended that I make a change every few months. (Whether she specified three months, six months or something else entirely, I no longer recall.)

A few weeks ago, while shopping, I figured that it was about time for a change in my allergy pills, and so I took the logical next step: I purchased a new bottle of allergy medicine. This month, I started taking them, with results that have been rather dramatic.

Not that my allergy symptoms have changed much; in fact, I haven’t noticed any difference in them at all. (Apparently the problem would crop up if I stopped taking antihistamines, at least during allergy season.) Instead, this new pill has been knocking me for a loop.

After I started the new medicine — which, again, is an over-the-counter pill — I began sleeping far more than usual. Mornings were swallowed by a haze of drowsiness. I found my productivity dropping sharply. Errands, blog posts and all sorts of other important activities just kept falling by the wayside until noontime or later. I wondered if I had come down with some kind of cold.

A few days into my new regimen, I twigged to the fact that I might not be sick and might, in fact, be having an adverse reaction to the medicine that I’d begun taking. I also remembered that about four years ago, I had started taking a certain type of allergy pills, and I’d felt extremely enervated for reasons I’d been unable to determine.

After I connected the dots last week, I decided to try cutting the pills in half. This worked out — sort of. I wasn’t as tired in the morning, but I was still far, far too lethargic to get stuff done at nearly the rate that I wanted.

So I’ve switched again. Fortunately, it turns out that I had at least two different types of allergy medicine in my house beyond the ones that I’d just acquired. Previously, I’d been taking Benadryl, but I didn’t want to change back to the stuff I’d just been using. However, I found some bottles of Allegra, so I decided to start using those.

I’m not going to say that I’m now super-perky in the mornings. But I am getting up and about.

I’ll take it.

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