Most people have grown up taking medications like Benadryl (also known as diphenhydramine) when they don’t feel their best. It is used every day to treat a variety of common ails, including symptoms of allergies and colds such as itching, watery eyes, hives, and rashes. This simple medication also has some lesser-known uses, however, such as acting as a cough suppressant, treating motion sickness, helping people sleep, and even treating mild forms of Parkinson’s disease. I’ve been taking Benadryl for years, and even I didn’t know that!
So many people like me use it easily and without a second thought, but like all medications, you should be careful not to take too much. Is it possible to suffer an Overdose though?
The answer is yes. Just like any medication, too much is a bad thing. You might just be taking it to help you sleep or to deal with allergies, but if you have had too much, this helpful medication will, unfortunately, increase the number of symptoms you have. No matter how common any medication may seem, you should always make sure you understand how much is too much.
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What Happens When You Overdose on Benadryl?
Now that we know that it can in fact be dangerous, you are probably wondering what kinds of symptoms an overdose might cause. You might feel confused, agitated, or unsteady, and may experience movement issues. Other symptoms include dry mouth, nausea, drowsiness, a flushed face, fast heartbeat, or diarrhea. It’s possible to also lose track of your speech and where you are and even lose consciousness or experience hallucinations. All of these symptoms are frightening, but not to worry; calling Poison Control and heading to the Emergency Room quickly to get treatment will make sure this overdose isn’t fatal.
How Much Benadryl is Too Much?
When taking medication, usually the proper amount one should take is dependent upon both their age and weight. Most bottles do have recommended doses printed on the side too, with the maximum amount of 300mg in a 24hour period. How much a person should take though is very dependent upon the individual, something which real-life cases illustrate very well.
In one case, a 13-month-old weighing 22Ibs had accidentally ingested 1,000mg (20 gelcaps) of Unisom. This would have been toxic even for an adult, and predictably, the child experienced seizures before and during his stay in the Emergency Room and ICU. His heart rate sped up even after being admitted, his blood pressure dropped, and despite medical treatment, he continued to deteriorate. Luckily, this hospital had experience treating adult patients, and they were able to stabilize this boy. After four days, he was able to return home without any other problems.
That was one of the more serious cases, and while small overdoses should be taken seriously, they may not require the same amount of hospitalization and treatment. For instance, in another case, a mother and father each gave their child a teaspoon of Children’s Benadryl in the same twenty minutes. Based on his age and weight, despite the fact that this was a greater dose than needed for his allergies, the boy was fine with just fluids and home observation. In a case with an adult, a male given hydroxyzine for drowsiness took twice the dose due to sleeping problems.
He became restless instead of tired, however, and upon calling Poison Control, learned higher doses had that effect. Ultimately, all three of these individuals were fine, but two of them required less treatment due to their age and amount taken. It’s important to remember that the individual matters when it comes to this.
We already know that the amount of medication you should take depends on your age and weight, so what exactly is the overdose amount? Generally, an overdose even when taking 100mg at once is unlikely, and accidentally taking double the recommended dose won’t usually have an adverse effect besides possible dizziness or nausea.
Accidents do happen of course, but those over age twelve are recommended to take 25-50mg every 4-6 hours. If your child weighs 100lbs, they can take this full dose, while kids under 25lbs shouldn’t use Benadryl at all, and kids, in general, should stick to 12.5-25mg every 4-6 hours. It depends on the individual, but 50mg at once is meant to be the maximum intake for adults while 25mg is the maximum for children.
If you suspect a possible overdose, call for emergency help and get to the hospital. Patients are usually given IV fluids while their heart is monitored with benzodiazepines are used for possible seizures. Multiple treatments can be used for treatment, such as activated charcoal to stop absorption into the intestines, IV fluids, intubation to stop the possible respiratory collapse, physostigmine as an antidote, sodium bicarbonate for the heart, and other drugs like benzodiazepines for possible seizures. Regardless of which treatment your doctor chooses, it’s most important to get to your doctor immediately and remember the proper dosages. Even common medications like Benadryl can be dangerous if you aren’t paying attention!
Benadryl For Anxiety
It can also be used to help decrease symptoms of anxiety. This predominantly works by helping you to relax and get some rest and sleep. Do bear in mind though that if you take it during the day, it can make you feel drowsy and give you the feelings of sedation. Be sure not to operate any machinery or drive. Mostly, people take Benadryl during the night because of the drowsiness caused. Also, remember that consuming Benadryl’s long term can actually cause it to decrease in how effective it is. If you use it daily, you might find that your body develops a certain tolerance to it.
Hence, bear in mind to use Benadryl whenever needed when it comes to anxiety, instead of a daily ongoing medication. Also take note that research-wise, it has not been exactly proven for its effectiveness when it comes to treating anxiety (despite the fact that it is commonly prescribed by doctors for patients for the purpose of anxiety.) If you want to use Benadryl For Anxiety, mention it to your doctor and be sure to get some medical advice.