Using Diphenhydramine for Anaphylaxis

Page content

If you have certain physical sensitivities to things like insect stings, seafood and food allergies, you can develop a strong systemic reaction coming from your immune system. Even though the substance you’re allergic to is usually considered to be harmless, your body’s reaction to it is so strong that your throat tightens making it impossible for you to breathe. Your blood pressure may drop and you may begin feeling dizzy, develop hives and itching and feel nauseated, begin vomiting and experiencing diarrhea. You feel may also feel anxious or develop a headache.

Your symptoms may go away and then return hours later, making it imperative that you get immediate treatment. Emergency medical personnel use diphenhydramine for anaphylaxis.

What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a strong, serious allergic reaction that develops rapidly. Those who develop this syndrome are at risk of death, especially if they don’t get immediate medical treatment.

Anaphylaxis may begin with by breaking out in hives, itching, a rash, redness of the skin and swelling You may develop a hoarse voice, coughing, chest tightness and/or pain, an itchy mouth and throat, have trouble swallowing and experience nasal congestion or stuffiness. This may lead to stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and you may develop a headache. Women may begin to feel uterine cramping.

Anaphylaxis normally leads to wheezing, shortness of breath, a bluish or pale skin tone, dizziness and a slow pulse. Breathing may become more labored or may stop altogether. If left untreated, you may lose consciousness and may die from lack of oxygen.

What is Diphenhydramine?

Diphenhydramine, sold under the brand name Benadryl, is an antihistamine used to treat allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. After giving an initial injection of epinephrine to reverse breathing difficulties and increase your circulation, medical personnel may give you diphenhydramine to reduce the systemic swelling and itch and difficulty breathing.

This medication blocks both H1 and H2 histamine receptors, blocking their effects on your body. These effects include constriction of your airways, gastric acid secretion and dilation of the blood vessels in your hands and feet.

Diphenhydramine is indicated for treating allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. If you are a nursing mother, have asthma or if you are highly sensitive to diphenhydramine, you should not use this medication, according to the Ghetto Medic. Emergency room medical personnel use diphenhydramine for anaphylaxis as they work to reverse the effects of severe allergic reactions.

What Are the Risks and Side Effects of Diphenhydramine?

Side effects of diphenhydramine include headache, dried bronchial secretions, sleepiness, blurred vision, heart palpitations and tachycardia or rapid heartbeat.

Additional side effects can include impaired coordination, nervousness, confusion, irritability, blurred vision, loss of appetite, tremor or nausea.

Patients suffering from asthma, hyperthyroidism, narrow-angle glaucoma, prostatic hypertrophy or enlargement of the prostate gland, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease should use diphenhydramine for anaphylaxis very cautiously, if they use it at all.


Ghetto Medic: Diphenhydramine

MedicineNet: Medications and Drugs: Diphenhydramine

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: Tips to Remember: Anaphylaxis