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Benadryl Plus

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 3 minutes read
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Benadryl is the brand name for a range of over-the-counter products that are used to manage allergies. Generally, most of these products contain a non-drowsy antihistamine such as acrivastine or cetirizine. Benadryl Plus (also known by the full name Benadryl Allergy Relief Plus Decongestant), is a product that contains the hay fever medication acrivastine as well as the decongestant medication pseudoephedrine. This product is formulated as capsules, and it is the only Benadryl product that combines an antihistamine with a decongestant. It is licensed to be given to children over the age of 12 and adults but is not currently recommended to be given to the elderly.

In countries other than the UK, there is a different Benadryl product called Benadryl Allergy Plus Congestion available. These tablets combine the drowsy antihistamine diphenhydramine with phenylephrine, which is also a decongestant. There is also a children’s version of the same product that comes as a liquid called Children’s Benadryl Allergy Plus Congestion.

Doctor’s advice

Who should take the medication?

Antihistamines can help relieve allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes and an itchy nose or throat. They work well for conditions like hay fever, pet allergies, and dust allergies. If you are also experiencing nasal congestion due to your allergic condition, a combined product with a decongestant can help relieve that stuffy blocked-up feeling.

How does it work?

During an allergic reaction, your immune system releases a chemical called histamine, which is responsible for the bothersome symptoms. Antihistamines stop histamine binding to its target sites in your body, reducing the immune response and also the symptoms.

The chemical structure of non-drowsy antihistamines makes them less likely to enter the brain via the blood. This makes them less likely to cause drowsiness compared to drowsy antihistamines.

Pseudoephedrine helps relieve nasal congestion, which can occur due to allergies. The nasal congestion is caused by swelling (inflammation) of blood vessels in your nose. Pseudoephedrine is a vasoconstrictor and works by narrowing the blood vessels in your nose. This leads to a reduction in the swelling, leading to an improvement in breathing through your nose.

Should anyone avoid taking it?

Like all medications, don’t take them if you previously had an allergic reaction to the medication. You should also make sure you do not take a combined antihistamine and decongestant product alongside another antihistamine or decongestant medication. Avoid taking this medication with the following conditions:
Cardiovascular disease (including hypertension). If you take beta blockers.
Diabetes mellitus. Phaeochromocytoma. Closed angle glaucoma. Hyperthyroidism. Severe renal impairment.

In addition, if you’re taking, or have taken, monoamine oxidase inhibitor medication within the previous 14 days you shouldn’t use this product.

Are there any side-effects?

As with all medications, some people may experience side effects. All antihistamines have the potential to cause drowsiness, even antihistamines that are classed as non-drowsy. However, you’re much less likely to experience drowsiness from taking a non-drowsy antihistamine such as acrivastine than you are from taking a drowsy one like diphenhydramine.

Potential side effects from decongestants like pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine can include nausea, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, restlessness, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Occasionally, some people may develop fast or irregular heartbeats. If this happens, you should stop using the medication and seek medical advice.

Potential side effects from decongestants like pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine can include nausea, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, restlessness, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Occasionally, some people may develop fast or irregular heartbeats. If this happens, you should stop using the medication and seek medical advice.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 13.10.2023
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