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Antihistamines - What antihistamines are used for

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Antihistamines are mainly used to help control symptoms of health conditions associated with allergic reactions.

Antihistamines can't cure these types of conditions as they don't affect the underlying cause, but they can often provide considerable symptom relief.

Conditions that can benefit from the use of antihistamines include:

Other uses

As well as being used to treat allergic conditions, antihistamines also have a number of other uses, including treating stomach ulcers (sores that develop on the lining of the stomach), insomnia (problems falling asleep) and motion sickness.

Stomach ulcers

Some types of antihistamine can be used to treat stomach ulcers by reducing the acid level in the stomach and digestive system. This is because histamine can stimulate the production of stomach acid.

Read more about treating stomach ulcers.


First-generation antihistamines may be of some benefit in the short-term treatment of insomnia, particularly if the symptoms of sleeplessness are caused by an underlying allergic condition, such as an allergic skin condition.

The long-term use of antihistamines to treat insomnia is not recommended because there are more effective treatments. In addition, there's a risk that you could become addicted to the sedating effects of first-generation antihistamines.

Read more about treating insomnia.

Motion sickness

Antihistamines are sometimes also used to control the symptoms of nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness.

Read more about treating motion sickness.

Medical Review: January 10, 2013
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