Common Over-the-Counter Medication May Provide Relief for People With Long COVID-19 Symptoms

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Antihistamines may relieve the painful symptoms of long COVID.

Widely available, over-the-counter antihistamines have the potential to restore daily function.

Antihistamines may provide relief for the millions of people suffering from the painful, debilitating symptoms of long COVID-19 that impair daily functioning. That’s the conclusion of a case report on the experiences of two such patients co-authored by nursing scholars at the University of California, Irvine.

The effects of COVID-19 on individuals range from mild symptoms to several weeks of illness to ailments including brain fog, joint pain, exercise intolerance, and fatigue that last for months after the initial infection. The clinical term for these lingering long COVID-19 effects is post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2, for which there is no standard treatment.

“Patients tell us they wish more than anything that they could work and do the most basic activities they used to before they got sick with long COVID. They are desperately searching for something to help them get back on their feet,” said the report’s corresponding author, Melissa Pinto, UCI associate professor of nursing. “Currently, there is no cure for PASC, only symptom management. A number of options are being tried, with antihistamines being one of them. The possibility that an easy-to-access, over-the-counter medication could ease some of the PASC symptoms should offer hope to the estimated 54 million people worldwide who have been in distress for months or even years.”

Melissa Pinto

“Patients suffering from long COVID are desperate to get back on their feet and gain relief from symptoms that impact their ability to function. The case report describes the experiences of two PASC patients and shows the potential benefits of using antihistamines, under medical supervision, to treat their symptoms,” says Melissa Pinto, UCI associate professor of nursing. Credit: Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing / UCI

The case report, recently published in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, describes two healthy, active middle-aged women with PASC who found, by chance, that antihistamines led to greatly enhanced daily function, now sustained for almost a year. Both took over-the-counter antihistamines to treat other conditions – the first one had triggered her dairy allergy by eating cheese, ­and the other had run out of the allergy medication she usually took – and experienced improved cognition and much less fatigue the next morning. The first woman’s long COVID-19 symptoms also included exercise intolerance, chest pain, headaches, a rash, and bruising, while the second coped with joint and abdominal pain, as well as the rashes and lesions known as “COVID toes.”

In the first case, the woman didn’t take another antihistamine for 72 hours; when her symptoms reappeared, she took the medication and again found relief. With guidance from her primary healthcare provider, who prescribed her an antihistamine, she began a daily dosage that has significantly decreased her other long COVID-19 symptoms. She reported that she has regained 90 percent of her pre-COVID-19 daily function.

In the second case, the woman took a different over-the-counter antihistamine as a substitute for what she had taken for years to manage her seasonal allergies. After noting that her long COVID-19 fatigue and cognition had improved, she continued to take it daily along with other allergy medicine. Her course of treatment, which now includes both over-the-counter medications, has also significantly reduced her additional long COVID-19 symptoms. She reported that she has regained 95 percent of her pre-illness functioning.

Previous studies, including those in the Journal of Investigative Medicine and Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, have similarly shown the potential benefit of antihistamines as treatment for PASC.

“Most patients tell us that providers have not recommended anything that has helped. If patients wish to try OTC antihistamines, I urge them to do so under medical supervision. And because providers may not know about new potential treatments, I would encourage patients to be active in their care and consider taking research and case reports like ours to appointments with providers so they can help create a regimen that will work,” Pinto said. “The next steps for this research into antihistamine treatment are to conduct broad-based trials in order to evaluate efficacy and to develop dosage schedules for clinical practice guidelines.”

Reference: “Antihistamines for Postacute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection” by Melissa D. Pinto, Natalie Lambert, Charles A. Downs, Heather Abrahim, Thomas D. Hughes, Amir M. Rahmani, Candace W. Burton and Rana Chakraborty, 7 February 2022, The Journal for Nurse Practitioners.
DOI: 10.1016/j.nurpra.2021.12.016

Additional co-authors on the report are Amir Rahmani and Candace Burton, UCI associate professors of nursing; Thomas Hughes and Heather Abrahim, UCI nursing science graduate students; Natalie Lambert, associate research professor of biostatistics & health data science at the Indiana University School of Medicine; Dr. Rana Chakraborty, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic; and Charles Downs, associate professor at the University of Miami School of Nursing & Health Studies.

5 Comments on "Common Over-the-Counter Medication May Provide Relief for People With Long COVID-19 Symptoms"

  1. Quick, write it down before Faux-chinese and the complicit media determines that this is phake & taken down!

  2. Interesting.

    Nice to know about respiratory infection in Dinosaurs
    However , It would be interesting to understand how the respiratory system actually emerged in all breathing creatures including Dinosaurs.

    Dinosaurs are suppossed to be the forefathers of the Avian Species. What exactly was the atmosphere in the past, that these huge breathing Giant creatures, developed wings to find breathable air to stay alive?

    So if we continue to create a unbreathable environment , will we also have to develop feathers (Icarus comes to mind from Greek Mythology!),to stay alive. Winged Humans are also embedded in our ancient tales. We call them Angels!

    Views expressed are personal and not binding on anyone.

  3. I hope everyone goes back and reviews the earlier report and current studies being performed at Univeristy of Florida,, reported in Nov 2021 that Diphenylhydramine HCL alone inhibited covid viral replication by 30% and when combines with lactoferrin (which also inhibited the viral replication by %30) that the compound of the two reduced the viral reproduction by an astounding 99%. Seems with a little bit more testing and trials this compound may offer a viable and affordible treatment for covid and pasc. Hopefully this is not being suppressed by mega-pharm in hopes of compounding a “novel” new drug in order to patent and make money instead of rapidly providing a true treatment now.

  4. Ummmmm….which antihistamines? I type this comment as I sit here with a debilitating headache I’ve had for over a year.

  5. Try Antioxidant Nutrients and rebuild Immune System once you find out what that is

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