What is Benadryl (diphenhydramine)?
Benadryl is an antihistamine drug which is also know by its generic name as diphenhydramine. Benadryl has been around for a fairly long time with it first being discovered in 1943. It carries a wide variety of uses due to its properties of being antitussive, anticholinergic, sedating, and antiemetic. It is available over the counter meaning no prescription is needed in order to obtain it. In addition to the brand Benadryl there are many generic equivalents available for sale. This has made diphenhydramine a relatively cheap and affordable medication. Benadryl is also often combined with other medications to increase its effectiveness in certain regards.
What is Benadryl (diphenhydramine) used for?
Due to its many properties Benadryl has a wide variety of uses. The most common use for Benadryl is to treat allergies. It inhibits the effects of histamine at the cellular membrane level. For this reason it works much better and quicker than many newer antihistamines. Diphenhydramine may also be obtained in an injectable form for the treatment of severe life threatening allergic reactions. Benadryl is also an anticholinergic agent which makes it helpful in the treatment of extrapyramidal symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Due to its sedative properties Benadryl can also be used as a anxiolytic. Some who suffer from anxiety have rarely found diphenhydramine to be a better anxiolytic than prescription drugs. Diphenhydramine can also be used to relieve nausea and sooth an upset stomach. This is largely due to its antiemetic properties.
Benadryl as a sleep aid
Benadryl's second largest usage next to being used an allergy medication is to be used as a sleep aid. This is due to diphenhydramine's ability to produce strong sedation as well as hypnotic effects in many who take it. Due to this it is often not practical for those who wish to take it for allergies during the day. It causes its sedative and sleep promoting effects through its action at the H1 receptor. It is not recommended to take diphenhydramine is doses above 50mg for sleep. 50mg has been found to be the most effective dose while still limiting side effects and decreasing the amount of tolerance which is built rather quickly for this medication. Some studies have found that after three consecutive days of taking Benadryl for sleep the drug is nor more effective at producing sedation than a placebo. Diphenhydramine is marketed as a sleeping pill in a variety of different brand names. It is also available in a variety of combinations for its sleep promoting qualities. It is often put in nighttime cold medications due to its ability to help with sleep as well as slightly help with congestion.
Diphenhydramine is also commonly marketed in topically applicable creams and lotions. These are used to treat itchiness that develops on the skin from allergic reactions or bug bites. It is very effective at eliminating the itchiness and discomfort from topical allergic reactions when applied in this form. It also has the advantage of not producing as much drowsiness in the user when used in this manner. In addition to relieving itching it can also act as an analgesic. It has been used in place of more common topical analgesic such as Lidocaine.