H1-antihistamine up-dosing in chronic spontaneous urticaria: patients' perspective of effectiveness and side effects-a retrospective survey study.
BACKGROUND: The guidelines recommend that first line treatment of chronic spontaneous urticaria should be second generation non-sedating H(1)-antihistamines with a positive recommendation against the use of old sedating first generation antihistamines. If standard dosing is not effective, increasing the dosage up to four-fold is recommended. The objective of this study was to obtain the chronic spontaneous urticaria-patient perspective on the effectiveness and unwanted effects of H(1)-antihistamines in standard and higher doses.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: This was a questionnaire based survey, initially completed by 368 individuals. 319 (248 female, 71 male, median age 42 years) had a physician-confirmed diagnosis of chronic spontaneous urticaria and were included in the results. Participants believed standard doses (manufacturers recommended dose) of second generation antihistamines to be significantly (P<0.005) more effective than first generation drugs. Furthermore, they believed that second generation drugs caused significantly (P<0.001) fewer unwanted effects and caused significantly (P<0.001) less sedation than first generation antihistamines. Three-quarters of the patients stated that they had up-dosed with antihistamines with 40%, 42% and 54% reporting significant added benefit from taking 2, 3 or 4 tablets daily respectively. The number of reports of unwanted effects and sedation following up-dosing were not significantly different from those reported for standard doses.
CONCLUSIONS: This survey supports the urticaria guidelines recommendations that the first line treatment for chronic spontaneous urticaria should be second generation rather than first generation H(1)-antihistamines and that, if standard dosing is not effective, the dosage should be increased up to four-fold.