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Meds and you

27 September 2013

Diphenhydramine

Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine. Antihistamines are drugs that can reduce or prevent allergic reactions by counteracting the effects of histamine.

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Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient of Betasleep (Nappi Code: 754676-005).

Diphenhydramine is one of multiple active ingredients found in Actophlem (Nappi Code: 779784-006), Allergin Exp (Nappi Code: 702080-004), Becof (Nappi Code: 788120-018), Benylin Original (Nappi Code: 707627-001/028), Benylin with codeine (Nappi Code: 707600-006/014), Broncleer (Nappi Code: 859745-007), Broncleer children (Nappi Code: 710636-008), Clear cough (Nappi Code: 803081-006/022/014), DPH (Nappi Code: 720291-003/011/119), Diatussin (Nappi Code: 792586-018), Dilinct (Nappi Code: 720003-008), Expectalin (Nappi Code: 805343-008/016), Expectalin + codeine (Nappi Code: 805351-019/027), Flutex Co (Nappi Code: 726923-001), Folcofen (Nappi Code: 727008-005/013), Histador Exp (Nappi Code: 783145-004), Medilyn (Nappi Code: 789976-005/013), Procof (Nappi Code: 757233-007), Relief-coff (Nappi Code: 823554-007/015), Solphyllex (Nappi Code: 765023-008), Theophen Comp (Nappi Code: 707823-001 & 770238-001), Tusquit (Nappi Code: 805491-007/015), Tussilinct (Nappi Code: 773115-005), Tussitot (Nappi Code: 773166-009), Biohist (Nappi Code: 794120-008), Caladryl (Nappi Code: 711594-007 & 711586-004)

General information
Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine. Antihistamines are drugs that can reduce or prevent allergic reactions by counteracting the effects of histamine.

In South Africa diphenhydramine is used for the treatment of allergic reactions and symptoms including hay fever and skin irritation, coughing, motion sickness, sleeping disorders and for the reduction of smooth muscle contraction, tremors and spasms.

Diphenhydramine may cause extreme sedation, and as a result it may decrease the time before you fall asleep, as well as increasing the depth of sleep. Because of this diphenhydramine is commonly used to temporarily relieve sleep disturbances. Because this drug may cause drowsiness, users should be careful when driving or attempting dangerous activities. It should furthermore not be combined with alcohol, as alcohol may significantly enhance these medications' sedative effects.

This medication does not cure the underlying condition leading to the symptoms that you experience, but simply keeps these symptoms under control.

Diphenhydramine counteracts the action of histamine, an agent in the body that causes itching, and other symptoms of an allergic reaction. It also reduces the activity of a chemical messenger in the brain called acetylcholine and thereby relieves muscle spasms and tremors.

How does diphenhydramine work?
Diphenhydramine counteracts the action of histamine, an agent in the body that causes itching, and other symptoms of an allergic reaction. It also reduces the activity of a chemical messenger in the brain called acetylcholine and thereby relieves muscle spasms and tremors.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 2
Available as: diphenhydramine is available as tablets and in syrups
What does it do? diphenhydramine counters allergies and is effective in the short-term treatment of sleeping difficulties
Overdose risk: medium
Dependence risk: low
Is diphenhydramine available as a generic? yes
Is diphenhydramine available on prescription only? no

User information

Onset of effect: within 20 minutes
Duration of action: up to 8 hours
Stopping this medicine: this medication can be safely discontinued when no longer needed

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have asthma

  • you have liver or kidney disease

  • you have glaucoma

  • you have epilepsy

  • you have heart rhythm disturbance, i.e. a fast heart rate

  • you are younger than 12

  • you have an enlarged prostate

  • you have difficulty urinating

  • you have myasthenia gravis

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.
Porphyria: This medication is safe for use.
Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children under the age of 12.
The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as adverse effects may be more likely.
Driving and hazardous work: this medication should be avoided as it may cause extreme sedation.
Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication as it may increase the side-effects of diphenhydramine.

Possible side effects

Side Effect
Frequency
Consult your doctor

Common
Rare
Only if severe
In all cases
dry mouth
X

X

drowsiness
X

X

dizziness
X

X

headaches

X
X

nausea/vomiting

X
X

anxiety

X

X
heart palpitations

X

X
blurred vision

X

X
hangover effect

X
X

slurred speech

X

X

Interactions

alcohol enhanced sedation
drugs for anxiety enhanced sedation
sleeping tablets enhanced sedation
mono amine oxidase inhibitors increased occurrence of diphenhydramine related side-effects
tricyclic antidepressants increased occurrence of diphenhydramine related side-effects
drugs that may cause hearing loss signd of hearing damage may be masked

Overdose action
Seek immediate emergency medical attention in case of an overdose. Symptoms may include weakness, confusion, loss of co-ordination, seizures and loss of consciousness.

Recommended dosage
Adults: 25-50 mg at bedtime (as sedative)

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.
 
 

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