Anti-Inflammatory and Antihistamine Comparison

Anti-inflammatory drugs and antihistamines are drugs that can be obtained over-the-counter and by prescription. Both are used to ease signs and symptoms of ailments, however each drug has its own purpose.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDS (nonsteroidical anti-inflammatory drugs), are used for pain relief 2. Anti-inflammatory drugs block the effects of enzymes in the body that create prostaglandins, which are the main source of swelling and pain. When these enzymes are blocked, pain and swelling is reduced in the body.


Antihistamines are generally used to relieve or prevent allergic symptoms and hay fever. The drug prevents the effects of histamine in the body which is produced in reaction to allergens. Some antihistamines are used to ease symptoms of motion sickness and to reduce stiffness and tremors in patients with Parkinson's disease. Because antihistamines can cause drowsiness they may be used to induce sleep in some patients.

Side Effects

Anti-inflammatory drugs can cause ulcers, high blood pressure and allergic reactions when used frequently or in high doses. Antihistamines cause drowsiness in most cases, but have other side effects less common and should be examined by a doctor if they occur 3. Some serious side effects of antihistamines include:

  • severe drowsiness
  • troubled breathing
  • dizziness
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • swelling of the face or tongue
  • fever 3