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Antihistamines May Help Calm COVID-19 Cytokine Storm

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Dual histamine-receptor blockade with cetirizine and famotidine appears to reduce pulmonary symptoms and may have other benefits in patients with COVID-19, according to a new study.

"We are excited about the global potential application of this unique approach to the cytokine storm which drives morbidity and mortality in this pandemic," Dr. Reed B. Hogan II of GI Associates, in Flowood, Mississippi, told Reuters Health by email.

In a paper in Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Dr. Hogan, and colleagues note that antihistamines are safe and effective treatments for reducing inflammation and cytokine release. They might thus be of help in reducing the respiratory distress associated with COVID-19.

Histamine-1 (H1)-receptor antagonists such as cetirizine are administered for allergies, and histamine-2 (H2)-receptor antagonists such as famotidine are used to control stomach acid and heartburn. Urticaria has been successfully treated with dual histamine-receptor blockade since the 1970s.

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