Cold Home > Diphenhydramine

Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine commonly used to treat or prevent allergy symptoms. It can also be used for a variety of other purposes, including treating common cold symptoms and insomnia. Different versions of the drug are available in both over-the-counter and prescription forms. Depending on the particular product, the medication may be taken by mouth, applied to the skin, or injected into a vein or muscle.

What Is Diphenhydramine?

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®, Sominex®, and many others) is an antihistamine medication available both over the counter and with a prescription. It comes in many different forms and is used for a variety of different purposes.
(Click What Is Diphenhydramine Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Potential Side Effects

As with any medicine, diphenhydramine can cause side effects. However, not everyone who takes the drug will experience bothersome side effects. Some people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can easily be treated by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common. Of course, some "side effects" of diphenhydramine (such as drowsiness) are not considered to be side effects in certain situations (such as if you are taking the medication to sleep).
Common side effects of this drug include, but are not limited to:
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Coordination problems
  • Indigestion or heartburn.
(Click Diphenhydramine Side Effects to learn more, including potentially serious side effects that you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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