Nursing scholars have turned to the anti-allergy drug class to treat COVID-19 patients battling lingering and debilitating symptoms months after their infection.
In a report published in the Journal for Nurse Practitioners Monday, researchers said that antihistamines might provide relief for people struggling with the long-term effects of a COVID-19 infection.
For the study, the authors focused on the case of two middle-aged women who got infected with SARS-CoV-2 during the first year of the global health crisis and continued to battle symptoms long after their infection subsided.
After their initial bout with the disease, both patients developed a variety of lingering symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog and lack of endurance during exercise. One of them also developed “covid toes,” or the discoloration and pain of the toes and fingers post-COVID.
Both women had a history of allergies, so they sometimes used antihistamines to deal with their allergic reactions. Interestingly, the same drug class was able to help alleviate their long COVID symptoms.
One of the women who had dairy allergies accidentally consumed a piece of cheese one time. Upon taking an over-the-counter antihistamine to treat her reaction, she experienced “considerable relief” because her fatigue and cognitive impairment also improved.
The long COVID symptoms came back three days after she stopped taking the medication. She eventually switched to a different anti-allergy drug and used it to counter her long COVID symptoms. The other patient also did the same, and the two of them have experienced a near-full recovery after taking antihistamines routinely.
Melissa Pinto, associate professor of nursing at the University of California, Irvine and one of the report’s corresponding authors, said the patients had become desperate while battling the lingering symptoms.
“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,” Pinto was quoted as saying by News-Medical.Net.
Since there is no cure for long COVID at the moment, medical experts have only been helping patients with symptom management. Experts have been studying several treatment options, and one of them involves the use of antihistamines.
There have been reports among patients battling long COVID symptoms on social media about the relief they experienced when using antihistamines. Their cases drove some researchers to study the drug class, per Gizmodo.
The nursing scholars involved in the newly published report said this is a good thing. Considering that antihistamines are over-the-counter medications, they can help the millions of long COVID patients deal with their residual symptoms. However, they also recognized that more research is still needed.
“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,” Pinto said.