What are the Side Effects of Benadryl in Children

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What are the Side Effects of Benadryl in Children
What are the Side Effects of Benadryl in Children (Image: "DSCF2001_k.jpg", Nesstor4u2)

Benadryl is a popular over-the-counter antihistamine medicine used to treat allergies, itching, bee stings, insect bites, chicken pox, poison ivy, and swelling. Benadryl will also relieve runny nose and sneezing whether from a cold or allergy. McNeil-PPC Incorporated, which manufactures Benadryl, has taken precautions to prevent parents from giving small children adult doses of Benadryl in order to put them to sleep. All packages of Benadryl, even the children's products say: "Do not use to make a child sleepy."

Dosage Fast Facts

AskDrSears.com advises to never use Benadryl or any other sedatives on infants under the age of 1 for sleeping purposes. Dr. Sears suggests that children should be given 0.5 milligram of Benadryl per pound every 4 to 6 hours if it is to treat an actual allergic reaction. Additionally, Benadryl should not be used on newborns, premature babies or children under 12 unless it is necessary. A child should not take more than 300 milligrams in one day. Adult dosages of Benadryl should not be administered to children. After reaching 12 years of age, a child can ingest 1 or 2 tablets every 4 to 6 hours.

Mothers and Infants

Although extensive research on the effects of Benadryl on pregnant mothers has not been completed, it is generally advised that pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant should not take Benadryl. Mothers who are breastfeeding should also not take Benadryl since it is secreted in breast milk.

Side Effects

In children, Benadryl may cause extreme drowsiness, loss of alertness, and heavy sedation caused by depressing the central nervous system. Benadryl may also produce the opposite effect and create severe excitability caused by central nervous system stimulation which causes anxiety, fear or recklessness. It can also cause chest congestion, nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness in muscles, constipation, loss of appetite, dizziness and dry mouth, throat, and nose.

Overdose Symptoms

Overdoses of Benadryl in children have been recorded and it can cause convulsions, hallucinations, and death. Giving a baby or small child adult dosages of Benadryl or dosages intended for children at the age of 12 may result in overdose symptoms and may be fatal. The symptoms of an overdose of Benadryl include central nervous system depression or stimulation, dry mouth, fixed and dilated pupils, rash or flushing of skin, and stomach and intestinal irritation. Vision problems and difficulty or pain during urination may also be present. According to Eric Puryear's January 19th report in the 2009 Chicago Crime Examiner Newspaper, 20 to 30 deaths occur each year in children under the age of 6 because of diphenhydramine overdoes. Diphenhydramine is one of the two main ingredients in Benadryl. Parents can be charged and jailed for administering such overdoses.

Getting Help

If your child experiences overdose symptoms, take him to the E.R. immediately. When used correctly, Benadryl is a safe cure for allergies and accompanying symptoms. However, if it is used in doses too large for a child to ingest, or for the sole reason of sedation or sleep, then it is extremely dangerous and even fatal.

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