- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: chlorpheniramine
Brand Names: ChlorTrimeton, Diabetic Tussin
Drug Class: Antihistamines, 1st Generation
What is chlorpheniramine, and what is it used for?
Chlorpheniramine is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve symptoms of colds and allergies including sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes. Chlorpheniramine is a first generation antihistamine that can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, causing drowsiness as a side effect, which the second generation antihistamines do not cause.
Chlorpheniramine works by blocking the activity of histamine, a natural compound in the body that causes allergy symptoms. Histamine is released by mast cells and basophils, types of immune cells, in response to allergen exposure. Chlorpheniramine binds to histamine H1 receptors in blood vessels, respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract, preventing their activation by histamine and the resultant allergic reaction.
Chlorpheniramine may be used for symptom relief in the following conditions:
- Perennial and seasonal allergic rhinitis
- Perennial and seasonal vasomotor rhinitis
- Allergic conjunctivitis
- Common colds
- Hives (urticaria)
- Itching (pruritus)
- Swelling of tissue under the skin and mucous membranes (angioedema)
- Severe allergic reactions (anaphylactic reactions) such as swelling of throat, difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting.
- Do not use chlorpheniramine to treat:
- Patients who are hypersensitive to chlorpheniramine or any of its components
- Individuals with lower respiratory disease such as asthma (controversial)
- Patients with sleep apnea
- Premature babies and newborns
- Avoid using chlorpheniramine in nursing mothers
- Use chlorpheniramine with caution in the following conditions:
- Narrow angle glaucoma
- Prostatic hypertrophy
- Stenosing peptic ulcer
- Pyloroduodenal obstruction
- Bladder neck obstruction
What are the side effects of chlorpheniramine?
Common side effects of chlorpheniramine include:
- Central nervous system depression
- Sedation ranging from mild drowsiness to deep sleep (most frequent)
- Lack of energy (lassitude)
- Impaired coordination
- Muscular weakness
- Abnormal skin sensation (paresthesia)
- Seizures (less common)
- Balance disorder (labyrinthitis)
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Visual disturbances
- Double vision (diplopia)
- Dryness of nose, mouth and throat
- Thickening of bronchial secretions
- Nasal stuffiness
- Involuntary facial movements (facial dyskinesia)
- Tightness of the chest
- ECG changes
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
- High or low blood pressure (hypertension/hypotension)
- Greater incidence of dizziness, sedation, and hypotension in elderly patients
- Upper abdominal (epigastric) distress
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
- Impaired bile flow (cholestasis)
- Abnormal liver function
- Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
- Liver failure
- Jaundice (rare)
- Painful urination (dysuria)
- Urinary retention
- Early menstrual periods
- Blood disorders such as:
- Anemia from rapid destruction of red cells (hemolytic anemia)
- Low levels of leukocytes, a type of immune cell (leukopenia)
- Low levels of granulocytes, immune cells with granules (agranulocytosis)
- Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
- Low count of all types of blood cells (pancytopenia)
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What are the dosages of chlorpheniramine?
- 4 mg
- 8 mg
- 12 mg
- 2 mcg/5 mL
Suspension (pediatric only)
- 2 mg/mL
- Tablets or syrup: 4 mg orally every 4-6 hours; not to exceed 24 mg/day
- Extended-release tablets: 8 mg orally every 8-12 hours or 12 mg every 12 hours; not to exceed 24 mg/day
- Extended-release capsules: 12 mg orally once/day; not to exceed 24 mg/day
- Sustained-release capsules: 8-12 mg orally every 8-12 hours, up to 16-24 mg/day
- Children under 2 years: Safety and efficacy not established
- Children 2-6 years: 1 mg orally every 4-6 hours; not to exceed 6 mg/day
- Children 6-12 years: 2 mg orally every 4-6 hours; not to exceed 12 mg/day or sustained release at bedtime
- Children over 12 years:
- Tablets or syrup: 4 mg orally every 4-6 hours; not to exceed 24 mg/day
- Extended-release tablets: 8 mg orally every 8-12 hours or 12 mg every 12 hours; not to exceed 24 mg/day
- Extended-release capsules: 12 mg orally once/day; not to exceed 24 mg/day
- Sustained-release capsules: 8-12 mg orally every 8-12 hours, up to 16-24 mg/day
- 4 mg orally once/day or every 12 hours
- Sustained-release: 8 mg orally at bedtime
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What drugs interact with chlorpheniramine?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- Chlorpheniramine has no known severe interactions with other drugs.
- Serious interactions of chlorpheniramine include:
- sodium oxybate
- Chlorpheniramine has moderate interactions with at least 201 different drugs.
- Mild interactions of chlorpheniramine include:
- Siberian ginseng
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Chlorpheniramine use during pregnancy is recommended only when potential benefit outweighs potential risk. There is no controlled data for chlorpheniramine use in pregnancy, however, antihistamine exposure in first trimester is not reported to be associated with increased risk of malformations.
- Chlorpheniramine is excreted in breast milk. Small, occasional doses of the drug is acceptable during breastfeeding. Large doses or prolonged use, particularly before nursing for the first time, may reduce milk production, and may cause effects in the infant.
What else should I know about chlorpheniramine?
In geriatric treatment:
- Non-anticholinergic antihistamines should be considered first when treating allergic reactions (Beers Criteria). Anticholinergic antihistamines block the activity of a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine, which can affect involuntary muscle function and fluid secretions
- Avoid use of chlorpheniramine in the elderly because of the high incidence of anticholinergic effects
- Drug clearance is reduced with advanced age and poses a greater risk of confusion, dry mouth, constipation, and other anticholinergic effects and toxicity
- Chlorpheniramine may exacerbate existing lower urinary conditions or prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
Chlorpheniramine is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve symptoms of colds and allergies including sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes. Common side effects of chlorpheniramine include central nervous system depression, sedation ranging from mild drowsiness to deep sleep (most frequent), dizziness, lack of energy (lassitude), impaired coordination, muscular weakness, restlessness, faintness, insomnia, euphoria, nervousness, irritability, delirium, and others. Consult your doctor before taking chlorpheniramine if pregnant or breastfeeding.
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A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, is a condition in which the delicate membranes that line the sinuses may get swollen and become red. A cold or common cold is a viral infection. It affects the upper respiratory system, which includes the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs.
Drug Allergy (Medication Allergy)
Drug or medication allergies are caused when the immune system mistakenly creates an immune response to a medication. Symptoms of a drug allergic reaction include hives, rash, itchy skin or eyes, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, fainting, and anxiety. The most common drugs that people are allergic to include penicillins and penicillin type drugs, sulfa drugs, insulin, and iodine. Treatment may involve antihistamines or corticosteroids. An EpiPen may be used for life-threatening anaphylactic symptoms.
What Is the Difference Between Allergy and Hay Fever?
Hay fever is a type of allergy that occurs in response to specific allergens and typically lasts for months. Learn more about allergies vs. hay fever.
COVID-19 vs. Allergies
Though there is some overlap in allergy and COVID-19 signs and symptoms there are also significant differences. Symptoms that they have in common include headache, fatigue, tiredness, shortness of breath, wheezing, and sore throat. Fever does not occur with allergies but is one of the defining symptoms of COVID-19 infections.
How to Stop Sneezing?
A sneeze is a sudden, forceful, uncontrolled burst of air through the nose and mouth. Anything that irritates the nose can result in sneezing. Sneezing can be triggered by particles of dust, pollen, spices, or animal dander. Sneezing is a semiautonomous reflex that is similar to blinking and breathing, meaning there is a level of conscious control over it.
How Do You Know If You Are Allergic to Mosquito Bites?
Mosquito bite allergies can cause issues if untreated. Learn the signs of a mosquito bite allergy, what causes it, and what you can do to treat it.
Latex allergy is a condition where the body reacts to latex, a natural product derived from the rubber tree. The reaction can either be delayed and cause a skin rash or immediate, which can lead to anaphylaxis. Avoiding latex is the most effective way to prevent an allergic reaction.
What Can You Take for a Cold While Pregnant?
You may take over-the-counter (OTC) treatment after consulting with the physician because these are generally safe. OTC medications for colds and flus include acetaminophen, guaifenesin syrup and saline nasal drops or spray. You can also use natural remedies to treat a cold during pregnancy.
How Do I Know if I Am Lactose Intolerant or Allergic to Milk?
Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of an enzyme (lactase) that helps digest the sugar (lactose) in milk. Milk allergy, on the other hand, is an adverse immune reaction to proteins found in milk. The symptoms of the two conditions are different.
How Can Teens Cope With A Cold?
Usually, teens have a healthy immune system to cope with common cold. Getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids can ease the symptoms.
Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds
If you have a COPD such as emphysema, avoiding chronic bronchitis and colds is important to avoid a more severe respiratory infection such as pneumonia. Avoiding cigarette smoking, practice good hygeine, stay away from crowds, and alerting your healthcare provider if you have a sinus infection or cold or cough that becomes worse. Treatment options depend upon the severity of the emphysema, bronchitis, or cold combination.
Why Won’t My Allergy Symptoms Go Away?
Allergies happen when your body's immune system reacts to certain substances as though they are harmful. Allergy symptoms may not go away unless you avoid your triggers, stick to your medications, find the right combination of medications, and consider surgery.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Allergic Conjunctivitis?
What is allergic conjunctivitis, and how do you recognize it? Learn the signs of allergic conjunctivitis and how to treat it.
What Are the 4 Most Common Allergens?
The four most common types of allergens include food and medications, pollen, pet dander, and latex.
How Common Is It to Be Allergic to Nickel?
Nickel allergies are common in 10 percent of the population in the United States and 18 percent of people in North America, including 11 million children.
What Can Trigger a Cold Sore?
After you get infected with HSV, it lies inactively in the nerve cells inside your skin and may appear as another cold sore at the same place as before.
What Causes Nose Allergies?
Nose allergies can be caused by irritants such as pollen, animal dander, and household dust. Learn about symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
How Long Does a Cold Last?
Most often, a common cold lasts anywhere from 5 to 10 days in length.
How Do You Know if You Are Allergic to Pollen?
Pollen is a powdery yellow grain that fertilizes other plants of the same species. The only way to know for sure if a person has pollen allergy is to see a board-certified allergist for allergy testing.
What Are the Symptoms of Ragweed Allergy?
The common symptoms of ragweed allergy are sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery red eyes, headache, nasal congestion, eye swelling, rashes and coughing.
What Do You Give a Child With a Cold?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics may be used to fight bacterial infections, but they have no effect on viruses.
What Are Typical Allergy Symptoms?
Allergy symptoms differ depending on the type of allergy and body part involved. For example, food allergies may cause different symptoms than nasal allergies or eye allergies. The severity of symptoms may also vary, ranging from mild irritation to a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.
How Can I Help My Child With a Peanut Allergy?
Since there is no cure for peanut allergies, prevention and keeping an epinephrine injector (EpiPen) on hand is key to helping your child’s allergy.
What Foods Cause Oral Allergy Syndrome?
Oral allergy syndrome, also called pollen food allergy syndrome or PFAS, is a type of food allergy caused by certain allergens found in both pollen and raw vegetables and fruits and some nuts. Foods that cause oral allergy syndrome include those in the birch, grass and ragweed families.
Should I Exercise Outside if I Have Allergies?
An allergy is a condition in which the immune system overresponds to a foreign substance. With the right treatment and precautions, you can completely eliminate allergy flare-ups during your outdoor workout.
What Is Good for a Child's Cold?
The common cold is one of the main reasons for missing schools in children and missing work in adults. Children are affected more commonly with cold than adults, who may have an average of two to three colds each year.
Why Are Allergies So Bad Right Now 2021?
Scientists believe that allergies are getting worse because of climate change.
How Do You Tell If Your Child Has Allergies or a Cold?
Colds and allergies have different causes, but both involve the body's immune system. Since the symptoms of allergies and the symptoms of a cold overlap, it can be hard to tell which one your child has.
Is Allergic Conjunctivitis the Same as Conjunctivitis?
Allergic conjunctivitis may occur along with sneezing, runny nose, or sinus headache. Many people also find that they are tired and feel agitated.
How Do You Get Tested for Food Allergies?
If you develop symptoms of a food allergy, your doctor will have you undergo a skin test or blood test to determine which foods you are allergic to.
What Are Typical Seasonal Allergy Symptoms?
Typical seasonal allergy symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, congestion, and a sore throat.
Is Food Intolerance the Same as Food Allergy?
Food intolerance is a condition in which an individual has difficulty in digesting certain foods. Consumption of these foods manifests as physical symptoms such as bloating, loose motion, gases, and bellyache. Food intolerance is quite common. Most people are aware of the foods that disagree with them.
Is My Sore Throat Allergies or COVID-19?
Sore throat can be a symptom of allergies or COVID-19, and it can be difficult to tell which one you have. Understanding the difference between these two illnesses can help.
How to Identify Cold Symptoms in Children
When a child is sick, their way of showing it may not always be clear. Here’s what to look for to determine whether your child is sick with a cold.
How Do You Treat a Cold Naturally?
Hundreds of viruses and bacteria can cause the common cold and flu. Most cases of cold and flu usually resolve in a week with simple home remedies and over the counter (OTC) medications. If there is no improvement in a few days, it is advised to consult a doctor.
Treatment & Diagnosis
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- Food Allergy
- Common Cold
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- Allergy: Winning the War Against Allergies
- Killer Cold Virus Infection
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- Peanut and Other Food Allergies -- Scott Sicherer, MD
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- 5 Food Allergy Myths
- Cold Sore Treatment
- OTC Cold and Cough Medications
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- Air Travel, Colds, and Sinus Infections
- Food Allergy: The Facts
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