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Diphenhydramine withdrawal? (Page 1)

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I have been taking 50mg+ every night of diphenhydramine in the form of otc sleeping medication for the past 5 years in order to fall/stay asleep. Last week I quit cold turkey. Will this cause withdrawal symptoms? About 48 hours after my last dose I felt nauseous and dizzy, had hot flashes and then would be very cold, had frequent headaches and a persistant sore throat and dry cough from deep in my lungs. The sore throat has become worse over time and now my sinuses are draining like crazy. I do not have any history of allergies or anything other health problems that relates to these symptoms. Was it dangerous for me to just quit so suddenly?
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replied May 12th, 2009
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I don't know how dangerous it was for you to quit cold turkey. I couldn't find any information that mentioned that. But I do know that some people who have been on this drug for a long time experience withdrawal symptoms when going off the medication. You have to keep in mind that diphenhydramine is an ingredient in many sleeping pills (Nytol, Sominex, Sleep- eez, Anacin PM, Excedrin PM, Tylenol PM.) The main side effect of stopping diphenhydramine is inability to sleep, which you didn't mention, but after five yers of taking this medication, it is not surprising that you are experiencing other withdrawal symptoms. As long as the withdrawal is bearable I would not worry. If it gets to the point that you cannot sleep or it is affecting your life drastically I would make a doctor's appointment.
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replied January 14th, 2013
OTC sleeping pills withdrawal
I have been taking diphenhydramine for about 7 years, at a higher dose than you. when I quit, I too have withdrawal symptoms. The worst is the sudden nausae & vomiting. I also get hot flashes and my skin feels clammy. I experience insomnia as well. The nausae & vomiting only last about 2 days, and the withdrawal doesnt begin till about 48 hours after my last dose. Even though the vomiting & hot flashes stop, I experience the clammy skin for a long time. Eventually, I am able to fall asleep, however, I wake up several times through the night. Even though that happens, I find that I do not feel so groggy & sleepy in the morning. What eventually makes me start taking them again is the rebound insomnia. This happens about 3 weeks after I quit, and last for a few days. It drives me crazy so I cave in and take my sleeping pills again. I have heard that if you can fight the rebound insomnia, you'll be okay. Interestingly, the withdrawal is the same whether I have been taking 50mg or 200mg....tapering off does not lessen the withdrawal.
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replied March 10th, 2013
This post is extremely helpful, thank you.

I think I have been taking this for about five years at a high dose. I want to quit now, but I just used it again today after being off for two days. The reason was because of nausea and vomiting withdrawl symptoms, I just couldn't take it.

I also noticed I was extremely emotional when I was going through withdrawl, I wonder if that speaks to my lack of serotonin while on this stuff - right now I am extremely level headed/feeling normal, which is to say, not as emotional as I was a during withdrawl. I think I'm going to try to taper myself and then take some time off of work to fight withdrawl.

I'm curious to know if anyone has tried to combat insomnia with a different medication like Ambien.
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replied January 29th, 2014
You don't want to get off OTC meds and replace with another medication. It will only get worse for you.
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replied September 3rd, 2013
Meljw- I tapered slowly off 50-75 mg Benadryl per night over about 6 weeks. I was getting enough sleep to get by on melatonin until a week after I was off the benadryl, Then wham! Sleep is getting worse by the night and resulting in non stop off the wall headache. Is this really going to end? I'm so miserable and am finding it hard to function. I don't think going back on Benadryl will help but what to do?! Sleep was 5 then 4 hrs then 3 and last night only 2 miserable hrs.
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replied May 14th, 2009
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How are you feeling on day three?
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replied May 14th, 2009
Fortunately I have had no problem sleeping. That is a HUGE relief for me. I have replaced the pills with earplugs and so far so good! Smile On the other hand, I still have a sore throat, dry cough, headaches and severely clogged sinuses. The nauseousness has passed but has been replaced by being very jittery and very moody. I'm not sure what is going on -- my issues are all over the place. I'm going to give it some more time and see what happens. Thanks for asking!! Smile
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replied June 1st, 2011
2 years on benadryl and want to quit.,...
Hi Sarahdadara,

I am a 30 year old mother and I too have been taking benadryl to help with sleep for the past 2 years at dosages of 25mg to 50 mg, per night to help with sleep. But, I am seriously thinking of getting off but I am truly scared. As, I suffered from fibromyalgia and do not take meds for pain other than iboprofen once a week. Lately, I have been noticing that I wake up several times at night and take long hours to fall asleep. So, this is no longer helping me. But, when I try decreasing dosage the though of not taking 50 mg makes me anxious, and thus get no sleep that night. I am aware than this has perhaps turned into habit forming as well. But, like i said I am truly scared of having withdrawal symptoms and fibromyalgia pains to roof and where I cannot function during the day.
Please, tell me how long has your symptoms last and how r u feeling now? I need motivation.
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replied December 19th, 2011
to help
are u having fast heart rates if not wing your your self of 25mg a few days then 12mg and so on never stop anything after taking it that long but if u have fast heart rates get to the doctor because bendryl can cause long qt but i dont think thats the case i think u have a little anxiety because the withdraw but the other symptoms sound like this time of year allergies get checked out an let a real dr. know if everything is fine dont worrie leave anxiety along its a bumpy road an try some other ways to sleep reading works great but good luck best wishes sincerly charlie
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replied May 14th, 2009
Advanced Support Team
Awesome! I'm happy for you.
It's really a great thing you're doing, and i'm sure that you'll find a solution to the respiratory stuff as well.

Best wishes,
Daniel
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replied May 14th, 2009
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It may take a while for things to get back to normal for you. The body is weird like that. The very thing you take a medicine to prevent will come back in spades once you stop taking the medication. People that use Visine/ eye drops all the time go through a period where their eyes are really, really red when they stop using the drops. I would assume the same goes for the allergy medicine. You are experiencing all the symptoms that diphenhydramine prevents. The sinuses cause the headaches. The nasal drip or mucus from the sinuses causes the sore throat and cough... It's all connected.
Sorry I didn't realize this before. I was focusing more on the side effect of diphenhydramine- drowsiness.
I hope you get to feeling better soon.
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replied May 31st, 2009
Benadryl withdrawal
Hi Sarahdadara,

I was looking for info on Benadryl withdrawal too (it's easier for me to search, I have a med background). It's not your imagination- withdrawal does cause problems, try reading this. If nothing else it should give you comfort, these patients took as much as 1250mg per day:

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerende r.fcgi?artid=1451752&pageindex=1#page

Good luck! You should feel quite normal soon.
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replied October 20th, 2009
I have also experienced these problems too its tough... I was taking about 700mg of this stuff daily for 4 months and ten days later i still have these issues.. Hot flashes, nose being stuffy and so on, they have diminished drastically over time but its still shows up... does anyone know how long this lasts?
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replied November 12th, 2009
I don't know about anyone else, but I quit about 5 days ago (I've been on 50-75mg a day for the last 2 years), and I've been excessively anxious, restless and have had constant shortness of breath. Anyone around who's gotten through this process that can say how long it lasts?
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replied August 5th, 2012
Withdrawal
I know one thing. My doctor told me long ago when I got off a anti diarrheal called lomotil that you shouldn't get off anything cold turkey after so long a time as 2 plus years. Even one year. He told me to cut the dose in half for about 3 days, then half again for 3 days and cut the pill as necessary. He had me actually cut the tiny pill in 1/4 for 3 days and my body thanked me for the adjustment. Hope that helps because it helped me. I'm trying to wean myself off Benadryl 50 mgs I've take for the past 10 years.
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replied December 10th, 2009
diphenhydramine (benadryl) withdrawal
I've taken a dosage of anywhere from 25mg to 150mg first occasionally and now almost daily for the past nearly ten years. I have tried many other solutions to my allergy problems, but this seems to be the only one that provides any relief. The drowsiness factor disappears after abt 3 days of consistent use so it is not a detractor for me, but I recently ran out of this OTC medication for a few days and was horribly sick (naseau, diarrea, sweating) and could not figure out what was causing it. I knew it felt similar to withdrawal symptoms I had experienced when accidently running out of other prescription medications. After three days, I picked up the benadryl and within 45 minutes of taking it felt fine.

I'm concerned now, that it may be doing more damage than I had any idea. But my doctors have always been aware of my taking it and the dosages and never raised any concerns or warned of withdrawal symptoms.

I'm wondering if I should once again look for other solutions, but it seems like every drug or medication has some rather unpleasant side effects.

I'd just like to be certain this is not damaging my major organs and know how to safely stop taking it if I need to do so in the future.

Also, hopefully someone else will be helped by my story.
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replied December 14th, 2009
Im there with those of you who have been taking the 25-50mg a day. I been on it for two years to help with sleeping and somewhat my lupus. Ive started having an unexplained and all over itch that cant be contrlled about 5 months ago, and Im hoping I havent damaged my liver or kidneys. I have always been SUPER sensitive to any medications and a lot of foods. Im 48 hours into this, so hopefully I can get through. No one has said how long to expect the W/D, but a good friend who has been through similar expereinces said a good rule of thumb is 30 days, with symptoms being worse at the beginning and gradually fading. Good luck to all with this.
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replied January 2nd, 2010
withdrawl
I have been taking benedryl regularly for years but recently, about 2 months agohave upped it to 5 or 6 pills a day. My friend told me I was addicted so I decided to quit cold turkey 42 1/2 hours ago. LoL.. I am sooo sick. Nausea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness, diarhea, dry cough, constant drainage. I am very depressed. I feel like I am going to lose my mind. I want to stick this out, but its killing me. I will update you to see how long this lasts.
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replied March 7th, 2010
Benedryl Causing Dry Eye Problems??
I just taped the Benedryl box closed! I have been taking it off and on for about a year to help me sleep. Recently, I have been having horrible dry-eye problems. It had gotten to the point that I've made several trips to the eye doctor for various medications to try to relieve this situation. My eyes are so red, swollen, and itchy that I look like I've been crying for days. While on vacation, I quit taking the Benedryl for about 3 weeks. Guess what, the situation cleared up. After returning from vacation, I started taking the Benedryl again. Within a couple of weeks the dry eye problems returned and it seemed even worse than before. I've been doing a little internet research and I've found that several other people have mentioned experiencing the same issues. As I said, I've decided to stop the Benedryl (maybe a good book will put me sleep without the side effects.) I think it will be interesting to see if the eye problems dissappear again. I sure hope so...
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replied March 30th, 2010
The withdrawals are caused by your body which has stopped using it's natural resources to fight whatever you're taking the Diphenhydramine to combat. Whether it be insomnia, allergies, or any of the symptoms you have been trying to relieve, those are most likely the symptoms experienced during the withdrawal, multiplied by the lack of your body's control.
I would suggest a taper, especially to those who have been on the medication for an extended period. I'm not sure if that would work but theoretically it should giving your body less and less of the drug to allow your body to slowly take over control again.

There should be no long term adverse effects to your health.
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replied June 24th, 2010
quitting benedryl
Quit last night taking two pills a night for years. It started to not work so I thought I would just stop the benedryl. I felt horrible today. Headache, irritable, tired. I, too, have had extremely dry eyes for the last two years. It would seem logical there would be a connection (antihistimine=drys. I will continue to stay off the benedryl (actally, generic version) and see if I can get a new sleeping routine and less dry eyes.
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replied November 16th, 2010
Yes, irritable, moody, headaches, upset stomach, etc. can be signs of withdrawal. I have been taking about 20-50 diphenhydramine 25 mg. pills a day. Thats about 500-1250 mg. A DAY. It sucks. When I get withdrawal, its basically a spaced out irritable sick feeling. Then it gets progressively worse. I've never gone more than like 2 days without diph, so I don't know how far it goes. Don't start even taking a few a night unless you absolutely need to. If you have to take some only take it for as long as you really need it - and it shouldn't be more than a week or 2, if you need them longer than seek a doctor. Hopefully not a doctor that only prescribes though - they are terrible for society - go seek one who is up on preventive treatments as well. Thank God, I am still able to function, but i am no doubt permanently fried. I am seeking help, but God knows it will take a while to get off an addiction of this amount. Most of what everyone has said seems fine, just make sure to get help and don't be embarrassed, many people unknowingly have this problem. If you have to take any sort of pills to sleep, then you have an underlying problem (of course) and need to treat that problem first. Best wishes, I see now this post is from 2009, hope you are off all that.
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replied January 22nd, 2012
Man. I was nervous because I have taken Benadryl every night for at least 5 years possibly 6. On good days I'll take 2 pills, but on bad days I'll take 6. I always space them out 4 hours and I never take more than 2 at once. I am having to have an allergy test because I had a severe reaction to Amoxycillin and the ER wants me to find out everything I am allergic to. The allergist said I can't have any antihistamines for 72 hours before the test. I hope that is long enough to get the antihistamines out of my system so the test will be accurate. I feel very jittery and I keep waking up really quickly/scared and I am very hot and sweaty. I was concerned at first, but I see that I'm not really taking that much compared to some people. I'm hoping that I can quit taking this crap and that I can start to feel better soon. I hope you've stopped taking 20-50 pills a day. That is insane. How many do you take at a time? I don't know how you function.
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replied November 17th, 2010
Experienced User
May have been from 2009 but I have the same problem! Thank you to everyone who posted here!! I honestly thought it was just me or all in my head. Everyone I talked to about it brushed it off or went "Benadryl?? You can't get addicted to benadryl" or told me it couldn't hurt me which I know is not true. It's a relief to know it's not just me.
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replied November 25th, 2010
Diphenhyramine withdrawl
Has anyone gotten blurry vision from taking sleeping pills? I have recently gotten this problem. I quit my pills 2 nights ago, and am nauseous, headache, moody, crying the whole thing. I read that it can cause blurry vision. That's why I stopped them. Any thoughts?
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replied November 25th, 2010
Diphenhydramine can cause blurry vision. Especially when taken with other drugs that effect the central nervous system. Also can cause alot of redeye, eyedrops can help with that. Melatonin can work as a more natural sleep aid and b-vitamins can be effective as they help to calm your system down which can promote sleep. White noise also helps.
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replied November 25th, 2010
I had never had anything wrong with my eyes before. I have been taking some form of sleep aid for 10 years now. Just within the last few months, I had noticed the blurred vision. Am also taking Synthroid and Chryselle birth control. This is estrogen based and also says it can cause vision changes.
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