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Diphenhydramine/ phenylephrine

Generic Name: diphenhydramine/phenylephrine (DYE-fen-HYE-dra-meen/FEN-il-EF-rin)
Brand Name: Generic only. No brands available.

Diphenhydramine/ phenylephrine is used for:

Temporarily relieving symptoms of hay fever, allergies, or the common cold, including nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itching of the nose and throat, and itchy/watery eyes. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Diphenhydramine/phenylephrine is an antihistamine and decongestant combination. The antihistamine works by blocking the action of histamine, which helps reduce symptoms such as watery eyes and sneezing. The decongestant promotes sinus and nasal drainage, relieving congestion and pressure.

Do NOT use diphenhydramine/ phenylephrine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in diphenhydramine/phenylephrine
  • you are taking sodium oxybate (GHB) or you have taken furazolidone or a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) (eg, phenelzine) within the past 14 days
  • you have severe high blood pressure, severe heart blood vessel disease, a rapid heartbeat, or severe heart problems

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: OTC Medication Use In Pregnancy: Wise or Worrisome?

Before using diphenhydramine/ phenylephrine:

Some medical conditions may interact with diphenhydramine/phenylephrine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
  • if you have a history of glaucoma; high blood pressure; diabetes; heart problems; ulcers; stroke; asthma; an overactive thyroid; seizures; a blockage of the stomach, bowel, or bladder; trouble breathing when you sleep; trouble sleeping; lung problems (eg, emphysema); the blood disease porphyria; an enlarged prostate or other prostate problems; adrenal gland problems; or blood vessel problems; or if you have difficulty urinating
  • if you have a chronic cough or if your cough occurs with large amounts of mucus

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with diphenhydramine/phenylephrine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • Beta-blockers (eg, propranolol), catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors (eg, tolcapone), indomethacin, furazolidone, MAOIs (eg, phenelzine), or tricyclic antidepressants (eg, amitriptyline) because side effects such as severe headache, high blood pressure, or high fever may occur
  • Bromocriptine or sodium oxybate (GHB) because the risk of their side effects or toxic effects may be increased by diphenhydramine/phenylephrine
  • Guanethidine, guanadrel, mecamylamine, methyldopa, or reserpine because their effectiveness may be decreased by diphenhydramine/phenylephrine.
  • Digoxin or droxidopa because side effects such as irregular heartbeat or heart attack may occur
  • Urinary alkalinizers (eg, sodium bicarbonate) because they may increase the risk of diphenhydramine/phenylephrine's side effects

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if diphenhydramine/phenylephrine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use diphenhydramine/ phenylephrine:

Use diphenhydramine/phenylephrine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take diphenhydramine/phenylephrine by mouth with or without food. If stomach upset occurs, take with food to reduce stomach irritation.
  • If you miss a dose of diphenhydramine/phenylephrine and are taking it regularly, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use diphenhydramine/phenylephrine.

Important safety information:

  • Diphenhydramine/phenylephrine may cause dizziness or drowsiness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use diphenhydramine/phenylephrine with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Do not drink alcohol while you are using diphenhydramine/phenylephrine. Talk with your doctor before you use medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using diphenhydramine/phenylephrine; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.
  • Contact your health care provider if symptoms last for more than 7 days, get worse, or occur with fever, rash, or persistent headache.
  • Diabetes patients - Diphenhydramine/phenylephrine may affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely. Ask your doctor before you change the dose of your diabetes medicine.
  • Diphenhydramine/phenylephrine contains phenylephrine and diphenhydramine. Before you begin taking any new prescription or nonprescription medicine, including medicine used on the skin, read the ingredients to see if it has phenylephrine or diphenhydramine in it too. If it does or if you are not sure, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Diphenhydramine/phenylephrine may interfere with skin allergy tests. If you are scheduled for a skin test, talk to your doctor. You may need to stop taking diphenhydramine/phenylephrine for a few days before the tests.
  • Do not take diet or appetite control medicines while you are taking diphenhydramine/phenylephrine without checking with your doctor.
  • Do not use diphenhydramine/phenylephrine for a cough with a lot of mucous. Do not use it for a long-term cough (eg, caused by asthma, emphysema, smoking). However, you may use it for these conditions if your doctor tells you to.
  • Do NOT take more than the recommended dose or use for longer than prescribed without checking with your doctor.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, ask your pharmacist or doctor about the best time of day to take diphenhydramine/phenylephrine.
  • Use diphenhydramine/phenylephrine with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Diphenhydramine/phenylephrine is not recommended for use in NEWBORNS; safety and effectiveness have not been confirmed.
  • Do not use diphenhydramine/phenylephrine in CHILDREN younger than 12 years old without checking with the child's doctor; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • Caution is advised when using diphenhydramine/phenylephrine in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially excitability.
  • PREGNANCY AND BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using diphenhydramine/phenylephrine while you are pregnant. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use diphenhydramine/phenylephrine, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of diphenhydramine/ phenylephrine:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Constipation; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth, nose, or throat; excitability (especially in children); headache; loss of appetite; nausea; nervousness; restlessness; trouble sleeping; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); blurred vision; chest pain; decreased coordination; difficulty urinating; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever; hallucinations; seizure; severe dizziness or drowsiness; severe nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, or trouble sleeping; tremors; unusual weakness.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include bluish-colored skin; difficulty breathing; dilated pupils; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever; flushing; hallucinations; mental or mood changes; seizures; severe drowsiness or dizziness; severe excitability; severe nausea or vomiting; sweating; tremors.

Proper storage of diphenhydramine/phenylephrine:

Store diphenhydramine/phenylephrine at room temperature, between 59 and 77 degrees F (15 and 25 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep diphenhydramine/phenylephrine out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about diphenhydramine/phenylephrine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Diphenhydramine/phenylephrine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take diphenhydramine/phenylephrine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about diphenhydramine/phenylephrine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to diphenhydramine/phenylephrine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using diphenhydramine/phenylephrine.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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