Drugs commonly taken for a variety of common medical conditions negatively affect your brain, causing long term cognitive impairment. They include such common over-the-counter brands as Benadryl (or Dimedrol in other countries), Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol PM, Midol PM and Advil PM though some Unisom products contain doxylamine instead.
Other anticholinergic drugs, such as Paxil, Detrol, Demerol and Elavil are available only by prescription.
One of the oldest antihistamines on the market Benadryl is more effective than even some of the latest prescription drugs. It is frequently used to stop or reduce the uncomfortable itchy and inflammation associated with an allergic reaction. It is fast and often effective at reversing the sometimes dangerous effects of a massive histamine release.
On the other side of this drug’s picture are adverse side effects often worse and more life threatening in children and the elderly or those chronically ill.
Diphenhydramine works by blocking the effect of histamine at H1 receptor sites. This results in effects such as the increase of vascular smooth muscle contraction, thus reducing the redness, hyperthermia and edema that occurs during an inflammatory reaction. In addition, by blocking the H1 receptor on peripheral nociceptors, diphenhydramine decreases their sensitization and consequently reduces itching that is associated with an allergic reaction.
Benadryl is the oldest antihistamine, diphenhydramine, is a potent anticholinergic agent.
The possible effects of Diphenhydramine include:
Ataxia; loss of coordination
Decreased mucus production in the nose and throat; consequent dry, sore throat
Xerostomia or dry-mouth with possible acceleration of dental caries
Cessation of perspiration; consequent decreased epidermal thermal dissipation leading to warm, blotchy, or red skin
Increased body temperature
Pupil dilation (mydriasis); consequent sensitivity to bright light (photophobia)
Loss of accommodation (loss of focusing ability, blurred vision — cycloplegia)
Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
Tendency to be easily startled
Diminished bowel movement, sometimes ileus – (decreases motility via the vagus nerve)
Increased intraocular pressure; dangerous for people with narrow-angle glaucoma
Possible effects in the central nervous system resemble those associated with delirium, and may include:
Euphoria or dysphoria
Inability to concentrate
Wandering thoughts; inability to sustain a train of thought
Wakeful myoclonic jerking
Unusual sensitivity to sudden sounds
Periodic flashes of light
Periodic changes in visual field
Restricted or “tunnel vision”
Visual, auditory, or other sensory hallucinations
Warping or waving of surfaces and edges
“Dancing” lines; “spiders”, insects; form constants
Lifelike objects indistinguishable from reality
Hallucinated presence of people not actually there
Rarely: seizures, coma, and death
Since 2002, the US FDA requires special labeling warning against using multiple products that contain diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine has been shown to build tolerance against its sedation effectiveness very quickly, with placebo-like results after a third day of common dosage.
Severe reactions (children) to diphenhydramine are documented, particularly amongst children, and it may cause excitation instead of sedation.
Severe reactions (elderly) are also common in the elderly.Because of potential for more severe side effects, diphenhydramine is on the “Beers list” to avoid in the elderly. (See NCQA’s HEDIS Measure: Use of High Risk Medications in the Elderly,
Caution: Benadryl Itch Stopping Gel contains additional ingredients including camphor. It is dangerous when swallowed.
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