Antihistamines are used for treating various allergies that include common cold. Among the various antihistamines that are used for treating allergies, Benadryl is one of the most common medications. Available as OTC medication, it is effective in treating various conditions that include itching on the skin, and seasonal allergies. Despite Benadryl being regarded as the first choice for treating various conditions, there are apprehensions about the medication – regarding the possible side effects. Before we look at the possible side effects of Benadryl it is necessary to understand a little more about the anti-histamine.
What are the different forms of Benadryl?
Benadryl is typically available as oral medication, and also available as a topical application. The oral form is more popularly used for treatment. Some of the different oral forms include –tablets, capsules with gel in the core, and chewable tablets. The topical application includes liquid, cream, gel, spray and stick. All forms are available as over the counter medication and in generic form – diphenhydramine. Let us now look at the various uses and the mechanism of action before looking at the side effects of Benadryl.
Common uses of Benadryl
By virtue of being an anti-histamine, Benadryl is commonly used for treating allergies such as common cold, and itches on the skin as a result of hives, and insect bites. Here is a look at specific uses of Benadryl.
· Hay fever, sneezing, itching in the nose and throat, itching in the eyes and running nose
· To induce sleep
· Hives, itches on the skin and rashes
· Skin conditions caused due to contact with poison ivy
· Motion sickness
· Skin conditions as a result of bites and stings from bees
· Combination medication for treating cough and migraine
· Common cold, running nose, sneezing
· Combination medication to treat pain as a result of sinus
· For managing angioedema
· For treatment of skin conditions caused by sunburn
What are the common side effects of Benadryl
Benadryl is known to cause side effects that could be either mild and moderate or serious and long lasting. Here is a look at the frequently reported side effects of Benadryl. For instance, drowsy feelings, dryness in the mouth, an unusual feeling of weakness and dizziness are possible side effects that could be commonly experienced. Individuals are also known to experience mild headaches when on Benadryl. In most of the cases, the side effects are not known to last long. There are other side effects of Benadryl that are regarded as serious and possibly long lasting in nature. These side effects may require medical attention if the effects are intense or last long. For instance, if individuals experience pacy heartbeat, sudden seizures, difficulty to think logically, or symptoms of dementia, it is necessary to seek medical attention. Individuals are known to have reduced powers of memory when on the medication.
Commonly reported side effects of Benadryl that are long term in nature
As mentioned earlier, most of the side effects are known to be short term in nature and in a small number of cases, side effects of Benadryl could be long term in nature. For instance, individuals who take Benadryl over a longer period are likely to experience constipation, and may also end up with slight dependence on the medication. Anxiety and difficulty in memorizing are other effects that could accompany the condition. Additionally, it is also possible that a small percentage of individuals on the medication may experience an impact on vision.
Here is a detailed look at some of the side effects of Benadryl.
Memory related issues – Individuals aged more than 65 years are at risk of experiencing memory related issues and symptoms similar to dementia when on Benadryl for a longer period. The medication can have an impact on the ability of the individual to think clearly, and impact memory. Individuals above the age of 60 are therefore advised to take the medication with medical advice and only in smaller doses to prevent the onset of complications.
Individuals with pre-existing conditions of restless legs syndrome – Benadryl is known to aggravate the conditions associated with restless legs syndrome among individuals with pre-existing conditions. I tis therefore advised that patients with the condition, seek medical advice prior to considering Benadryl for long term use. I tis also important to regulate dosage in a manner so as not to aggravate the condition.
Abnormal or unusual increase in weight – This is a possibility with long term use of Benadryl. Though not considered as one of the commonly reported side effects of Benadryl, there is a possibility of this occurring and it therefore requires observation on the part of patients who use it as long term medication. One of the reasons for this is attributed to the possibility of the combination of medications that are typically consumed when on long term treatment regimens.
Impact on routine actions and ability to stay focused
One of the commonly reported side effects of Benadryl is its impact on routines and the manner in which it affects the ability of individuals to focus. By virtue of its mechanism of action, Benadryl causes drowsiness and this could affect the ability to focus on a task. It is therefore advised that individuals who intend to go on long drives or individuals employed as drivers, seek medical advice before using Benadryl as long-term medication. It is also important to regulate dosage so as to prevent the side effects from having an impact on routine tasks.
Another side effect that has an impact on routines is constipation that is often reported by long term users of Benadryl. It is therefore necessary for individuals with pre-existing conditions to exercise caution while taking Benadryl as long-term medication. The dosage needs to be regulated in such a manner so as to prevent complications, including constipation.
The need for caution when children are prescribed Benadryl as a long-term treatment option
Children are often prescribed oral formulations of Benadryl as treatment options, and there is a possibility of side effects that include difficulty in falling asleep, seizures, and heightened activity or restlessness. It is also possible that children may exhibit irritable or agitated behavior when taking Benadryl on long term basis. In the case of infants, common side effects include difficulty breathing and possible seizures. Due to the nature of side effects and the tender age of infants, it is necessary to avoid usage of OTC Benadryl, and use only when prescribed. Statutory warnings from the FDA recommend that Benadryl OTC formulations are not to be used on children below the age of two years.
The need for maintain the right dosage to mitigate possible side effects of Benadryl
With the side effects explained in detail above, it is important to look at the right dosage of Benadryl to mitigate the side effects of Benadryl. Simple suggestions help manage the dosage of Benadryl effectively. For instance, it is important to consider the condition for which the medication is used – mild and moderate conditions need to be treated with dosages that are as mild as possible. The dosage is also age related and should therefore be dispensed as per the age of the patient. Finally the dosage also depends on the form of Benadryl that is used as medication, as this impacts the absorption rate and the half life of the drug.