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Antihistamine Meds May Raise Risk for Diarrheal Illness

Antihistamine Meds May Raise Risk for Diarrheal Illness

03/30/13

FRIDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who take antihistamines to reduce stomach acid are at increased risk for infection with Clostridium difficile, a common cause of diarrhea, a new study finds.

Researchers reviewed the findings of 33 previous studies that looked at C. difficileand antihistamines used to suppress stomach acid. People who took over-the-counter antihistamine drugs did not have a significantly increased risk of C. difficileinfection.

However, a clear link existed between histamine 2 receptor antagonists -- a specific class of antihistamines -- and C. difficileinfection. The risk for people on these drugs -- also known as H2 blockers -- was greatest for hospitalized patients receiving antibiotics, said the researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The study was published online March 27 in the journal PLoS One.

"It's not clear why these antihistamines increase the risk of C. difficileinfection, because gastric acid does not affect C. difficilespores," senior author Dr. Larry Baddour, an infectious diseases expert, said in a Mayo Clinic news release. "However, it may be that vegetative forms of C. difficile, which are normally killed by stomach acid, survive due to use of stomach acid suppressors and cause infection."

The researchers said their findings highlight the need for careful use of histamine 2 receptor antagonists in hospitalized patients, and suggest that reducing the use of these drugs could significantly lower the risk of C. difficileinfections.

Although the study tied use of these drugs to higher risk of diarrheal illness, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about Clostridium difficileinfections.

Health NewsCopyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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