Doxylamine is an antihistamine sold over-the-counter in US as sleep medication, both in generic form as well as under a brand name. It is also used to provide relief from symptoms of allergy and cold, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing. The medication works by blocking histamine release in the body, which is a chemical substance that causes allergic reactions and exhibit certain symptoms.
Though it is considered a low-risk medicine, the availability of the medicine may be different in various places. Whether it is available over the counter (OTC) or through prescription from a health care provider is mostly a matter of local law. Because, certain nations allow this medication to be available for patients without a prescription, others have strict drug regulation and exert more control on how and where it should be sold.
How it works?
The medicine works by suppressing the neurotransmitters in the brain and nervous system, and thus creates a sedative effect on the individual.
Doxylamine preparations have many uses. However, it is mainly used in treating insomnia and certain other allergic conditions. This drug should not be used for treating long term conditions, unless directed by the health care provider, as it is considered not safe for using over a long period of time.
Most preparations used for treating insomnia contain only the active ingredient doxylamine, and are available in the form of tablets, liquids, chewable tablets, or gelcap pill. Though the sleep aid is classed under short term sedative, it can put the patient under sedative action for a minimum of seven hours or more. So, patients taking it are advised to make sure they have enough time for sufficient rest.
2. Cold or allergy
For the treatment of cold or allergy, the medication is typically added in small quantities with other antihistamines, so to not create severe sleepiness in patients using it. In addition to adding to other antihistamines, it is also added along with certain fever reducers, cough suppressants, and the like medication for treating certain medical conditions. However, the medication should not be used for longer than 7 days for treating cold or allergic reactions. Cold and allergic conditions that usually persist for more than a week should be brought to the notice of a doctor immediately.
When to use Doxylamine?
People who suffer from insomnia, may find relief from taking this medication. Doxylamine stand-alone preparations are commonly used to treat insomnia. However, this medication is specifically used to treat this sleep disorder, when other forms of sleep therapy like listening to relaxing music or drinking tea fails to produce the desired sleep effect. Long term use can create addiction, so it should be used with caution. It also handles specific episodes of insomnia that occur sporadically.
The medication also treats common symptoms of flu and cold. For best results, drug therapy should be initiated as soon as the symptoms of cold and flu are first identified. When used in later stages, the results are not as beneficial as using it in early stages.
The medication should be used as directed by the health care provider, not less or more than what is prescribed. Avoid taking larger doses of the drug for longer than recommended by the physician. To prevent stomach upset, the drug should be consumed along with food or milk.
Patients with blockage in stomach or intestines, difficulty in defecation or difficulty in urination should avoid taking it. Untreated or uncontrolled medical conditions such as glaucoma, thyroid disorder, heart disease, or asthma or COPD should not take this medicine. Driving activity should be avoided after taking doxylamine succinate, as it may cause blurred vision and make it difficult for the patient to drive.
People who have respiratory or heart problems, or those who suffer with sleep apnea should avoid taking this medicine, as it may cause cardio-respiratory system impairment that could eventually lead the person to death.