Diphenhydramine and Children With ADD

Written by jennifer terry
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Diphenhydramine and Children With ADD
Common cold medications can increase excitability in children with ADD. (boy image by Svetlana Kashkina from Fotolia.com)

Children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) may be adversely affected when ingesting diphenhydramine. This ingredient is used in some formulas of prescription medication used to treat ADD but may not be beneficial to all children. Diphenhydramine can cause increased excitability and other side effects in some children. The ingredient is also found in over-the-counter medications that are often given to children, which increases the risk that a child with ADD could consume an overdose of diphenhydramine.


Diphenhydramine is one of the most widely used ingredients in antihistamines. The ingredient is found in medications for the common cold, allergies, hay fever and watery eyes---all medications that are given to children. Diphenhydramine proves to be a good solution for sleeplessness or insomnia. Though it offers fast relief for targeted symptoms, the medications seldom stimulate a complete recovery. The most common brands of diphenhydramine include benadryl and Nytol.

A Synopsis of ADD

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a psychiatric or behavioural disorder that is most commonly diagnosed during childhood. According to Dr. R. Woodard, a researcher at Yale University School of Medicine, approximately 3 to 5 per cent of children across the globe have been diagnosed with ADD. The disorder is accompanied by several notable symptoms such as lack of attention, concentration difficulties, hyperactivity and impulsivity. These symptoms are most often exhibited by children beginning around the age of 7.

Usage of Diphenhydramine

Diphenhydramine is often used as a component of the medication for ADD. ADD is characterised by problems pertaining to insomnia, where the child affected by ADD tends to stay awake during nights. The issue of insomnia, or sleeplessness, is reduced by the medicines containing diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine induces a kind of deep drowsiness, which in turn would help to put the child to a sound sleep.

Precautions While Using Diphenhydramine

A child with ADD would ideally be subjected to an allergy test to find out whether he or she is allergic to diphenhydramine. It is important to tell the doctor about all the other medications, including nutritional supplements and over-the-counter allergy medication, that are also being used. Because diphenhydramine can create significant problems when consumed in excess, special care should be taken to ensure there is no overusage of diphenhydramine by taking multiple products.

Side Effects of Diphenhydramine

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports diphenhydramine has the potential for several side effects. Possible side effects include cognitive impairment and vision problems. A very common side effect of diphenhydramine is dryness of the nose, mouth and throat. Children with ADD tend to be very excitable pursuant to diphenhydramine consumption. Nausea, vomiting, headache, agitation and nervousness are sometimes noted in children with ADD who use diphenhydramine. Medicines containing diphenhydramine should be used under the advice of a medical doctor, particularly for children with ADD who are at risk of receiving the ingredient from multiple sources.

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