Taking Unneeded Allergy Pills

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Researchers at Ohio State University find that 65 percent of people taking allergy medications do not have allergies, NBC-TV reports. "We expected it to be somewhat high, but not quite that high," says Dr. Sheryl Szeinbach. A professor of pharmacy administration, Szeinbach became interested in the topic after an entire year on prescription allergy drugs failed to relieve her stuffed nose and irritated eyes. It turned out that she was having a reaction but not an allergy to the chlorine in the pool where she swims every day. An allergic reaction occurs when pollen or other substances in the environment cause cells to release the chemical, histamine, that causes inflammation of the nose and eyes. The anti-allergy drugs block the histamine, but do not do anything if there is no allergy. The common cold, chemicals and a sinusitis can all cause allergy-like symptoms even if there is no allergy. People who are misdiagnosed can waste as much as $80 a month for prescription drugs they do not need, however, side effects are rare. Only skin testing can reveal definitively if a person is truly allergic.