Can Chlorpheniramine used as an Anti-histamine (Sleep Aid)
Chlorpheniramine, commonly sold as Piriton belongs to a group of medication called antihistamine that are sedating. It generally helps to reduce allergy symptoms by preventing the effects of a chemical that is produced by the central nervous system called histamine. Histamine is produced by the body in response to exposure to allergens. In addition to that, it crosses the blood brain barrier that helps in making a person feel more relaxed. The use of chlorpheniramine is only allowed for children above two years old and adults. Chlorpheniramine is available in the form of syrup, tablets and even intravenous injection. It is vital to identify the strength of chlorpheniramine as different products may have different strength of the active ingredient. Therefore, it is recommended to follow the instructions available on the leaflet or as advised by the medical personnel. When a dose is missed, avoid double dosing. Wait for the next timing of dose to consume the medication. Chlorpheniramine is usually prescribed two to three times a day. It is also recommended to not consume this medication with alcohol as well as other medication as the sedative effect may be exacerbated. Due to the sedative effect, avoid handling heavy machinery and driving.
Chlorpheniramine is typically being used in different circumstances such as:
(1) To relieve allergic reactions
The anti-histamine effects helps to relieve symptoms such as itchiness and rashes. The anti-cholinergic effects aids in drying up excess bodily fluid in the case of runny nose and watery eyes. With these two properties, it is commonly prescribed for common cold and hay fever (allergic rhinitis), urticarial (skin allergy), contact dermatitis, allergic conjunctivitis, vertigo and nausea.
Aside from treating allergies the sedating effect can also be utilized in treating itchiness as when a person is resting, there is less scratching.
Although it is available without a doctor’s prescription, it is important to note that chlorpheniramine is not suitable to treat cold and cough for babies under two years old as their body mechanism is very sensitive at that age. In Malaysia, the Ministry of Health Malaysia does not allow the use of cough and cold medicines for infants and young children under the age of 2 since 2007. Furthermore, the use of this medication in babies under the age of two may cause respiratory failure. This is due to the fact that it causes the child to be drowsy and sleepy. As it crosses the blood brain barrier, it may also interfere with the respiratory centre located in the brain and thus stop them breathing by itself.
(2) To relieve motion sickness
The anti-cholinergic properties of chlorpheniramine is commonly being used to treat nausea associated with motion sickness.
(3) To help to sleep
The most common side effects of chlorpheniramine is drowsiness. Most sleep aids available over the counter (OTC) contain anti-histamine. However, to help in sleeping, taking chlorpheniramine should be only used for two to three nights in a row or when traveling or stress is involved. The routine use of this medication to aid in sleeping is not recommended as tolerance to its sedative effects will develop quickly. The longer a person takes it, the less likely it will make a person drowsy. Besides that, it may cause daytime drowsiness and dry mouth when consumed excessively. In addition to that, sleep aids are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.