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Diphenhydramine Benadryl Overdose Symptoms & Side Effects

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Benadryl overdose can cause serious heart rhythm troubles, leading to death.  Diphenhydramine overdose is due to toxicity from overdosing on Benadryl or taking too much of the drug. Common signs of Diphenhydramine overdose include extreme drowsiness, blurred vision, increased heart rate, confusion, seizures, heart troubles & even coma.

By We Level Up | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: January 2, 2023

Important Diphenhydramine Benadryl Overdose Information

While few people actually die from a Benadryl overdose, antihistamine overdoses are possible. A Benadryl overdose can cause serious heart rhythm troubles, which can lead to death.  Diphenhydramine overdose is due to toxicity from the Benadryl drug. Common signs of Diphenhydramine overdose include confusion, hallucinations, delirium, anxiety, intense drowsiness, restlessness, nausea, inability to speak, increased heart rate, and urinary retention.

EMS Treatment for Benadryl Overdose

Hospital emergency room Benadryl overdose treatments, also known as Benadryl overdose treatment EMS, generally include:

  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Medications to treat symptoms or reverse the Benadryl overdose effects.
  • Activated charcoal
  • Laxative
  • Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth into the lungs and connected to a breathing machine (ventilator)

Recovery from Diphenhydramine overdose is probable if the patient prevails during the first 24 hours. Difficulties from pneumonia, muscle damage from lying on a hard surface for a long period of time, or brain damage from deficient oxygen can result in permanent injuries.

Few people actually die from an antihistamine overdose. However, serious heart rhythm disturbances may occur, which can cause death. Keep Benadryl and all medicines in child-proof packaging out of reach of young children.

Benadryl Overdose, Signs, Side Effects, Symptoms, Abuse & Treatment

Symptoms of overdose of Benadryl like sleepiness, agitation, confusion, blurred vision, constipation, inability to sweat and pass urine, dry eyes and mouth, coma, seizures, and cardiac arrest. Assuming someone is not seizing or in cardiac arrest, there are two common presentations. Some individuals are in a coma, and waking up is hard or impossible. The other type of individual is delirious, they might exhibit unusual behavior such as picking at sheets on the hospital bed. They are more likely to mumble incoherently, be agitated, and impaired vision.

Benadryl Half Life

The half-life of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is typically between 4 and 8 hours in adults. That means it takes approximately 4-8 hours for the body to eliminate half of the drug. The half-life of Benadryl can vary depending on characteristics such as age, liver function, and other medicines used. It’s important to note that Benadryl’s half-life is not the same as its time span of action.

Can You Overdose On Benadryl?

Talk to your teens about the dangers of Benadryl overdose.  If someone asks you if can you overdose on Benadryl, let them know to use caution and not to take more than the recommended dose.  Learn the signs and symptoms of Benadryl overdose and what to do in case of Benadryl posing.
Talk to your teens about the dangers of Benadryl overdose. If someone asks you if can you overdose on Benadryl, let them know to use caution and not to take more than the recommended dose. Learn the signs and symptoms of Benadryl overdose and what to do in case of Benadryl posing.

Benadryl side effects like drowsiness can prolong Benadryl’s half-life duration and action. It is important to take Benadryl only as directed by a healthcare provider. Taking too much Benadryl can lead to serious side effects including Benadryl overdose.

Dangers Of Benadryl Overdose

What is a benadryl trip like? Due to sensations of profound sleepiness, a Benadryl trip might imitate the high feeling brought on by various recreational drugs. Do not underestimate how dangerous this medication is; just because it is available without a prescription doesn’t mean it can’t kill you if you take enough of it. There is a fine line between being a bit sleepy and having significant problems like heart problems and seizures, which can be life-threatening. According to the National Institute for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) [4], in 2016, a study demonstrated that diphenhydramine or Benadryl overdoses made up 3.2% of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. In the same survey, diphenhydramine ranked among the top 15 drugs most frequently involved in drug overdose deaths in the U.S

FDA Warns About The Benadryl Challenge

A person has reportedly died after taking an excessive amount of Benadryl anti-allergy medication as part of a challenge on the social media app TikTok. The challenge involves TikTok users daring each other to consume large amounts of the medicine, normally taken to ease allergy symptoms from conditions like hayfever. This is not a drug people should be experimenting with. So what does a Benadryl overdose look like? What is important for people aware of this Tiktok challenge to know about the medication?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [1] warns that consumption of higher than recommended doses of the popular over-the-counter (OTC) allergy drug diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl abuse) can lead to seizures, serious heart problems, coma, or even death. FDA is aware of news reports of a person ending up in emergency rooms or dying after playing in the “Benadryl Challenge” encouraged in videos posted on the social media app TikTok [2].

What Is Benadryl?

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is a brand-name, over-the-counter (OTC) medication classified as an antihistamine. It’s used to help relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies such as hay fever, other allergies, and the common cold, as well as itchy skin due to insect bites, hives, and other causes.  

Diphenhydramine or Benadryl is also most often used for treating vomiting, nausea, allergic rhinitis, mild to severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis, and as a mild sleep aid. However, due to easy access to this over-the-counter medication, it is often abused. It can lead to acute intoxication, and if taken in large doses, it can lead to Benadryl overdose.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) [3], over the past 20 years or so, the drug misuse scenario has seen the emergence of both prescription drugs abuse and over-the-counter (OTC) medications being reported as ingested for recreational purposes. OTC drugs such as antihistamines, cold and cough medications, and decongestants are reportedly the most popular in being diverted and misused.

Diphenhydramine Drug Facts

Benadryl Drug Facts


Is Diphenhydramine An Antihistamine?

Yes, diphenhydramine is an antihistamine. When administered topically, it can alleviate pain and itching brought on by bug bites, minor cuts, burns, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. It can cure hay fever, allergies, cold symptoms, and sleeplessness when taken orally. It can cure severe allergic reactions, motion sickness, and Parkinson’s disease symptoms when administered intravenously.


Diphenhydramine Availability

A prescription is occasionally required for Diphenhydramine.


Diphenhydramine & Alcohol

Dangerous outcomes are possible if you combine Diphenhydramine and alcohol.


Brand Names Of Diphenhydramine

The brand names of Diphenhydramine are Benadryl, Nytol, Banophen, Allergy Medicine, Diphen, Benadryl Extra Strength, Diphenhist, Wal-Dryl, Sleep Aid (diphenhydramine), and Wal-Sleep Z.

Diphenhydramine & Pregnancy

There are no significant dangers relating to taking Diphenhydramine while pregnant.


Diphenhydramine Drug Class

Diphenhydramine is classified as an Antihistamine.


Diphenhydramine Warning

Diphenhydramine can increase your risk of a heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. This is more likely to develop in someone who already has heart disease or in someone with prolonged use. This medication may induce bleeding in the stomach without warning signs.


Half Life of Benadryl

The half-life of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is approximately 4-7 hours in adults. This means that it takes about 4-7 hours for the body to remove half of the drug from the bloodstream. The half-life can vary depending on factors such as age, kidney function, and liver function. It is important to note that Benadryl can stay in the body for several days and may continue to produce effects for up to a week after it is taken. If you have any questions about the half-life of Benadryl or how it may affect you, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional.

How Can You Overdose on Benadryl?

Diphenhydramine is a type of medication called an antihistamine. It is used in many allergy and sleep medications. An overdose occurs when a person ingests more than the standard recommended dose of this medication. This can be by accident or intentional.

If you or someone you are with has suffered a Benadryl overdose, call your local emergency numbers like 911, or your local poison control crisis center. You can also call the national toll-free Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 from anywhere in the United States.

The active ingredient in Benadryl called Diphenhydramine is harmful when consumed in large amounts.

Benadryl Addiction Statistics

There are dangers associated with using Benadryl that you should be aware of, such as accidental overdose. According to a 2017 study, approximately 3% of drug overdose fatalities in the United States involved diphenhydramine, the active component in Benadryl. Diphenhydramine ranks among the top 10 drugs responsible for these fatalities in the majority of the nation’s regions. Sadly, many of these cases involved kids under the age of six.

Benadryl Overdose
It’s important to know what Benadryl overdose symptoms look like to be able to recognize them in yourself or a loved one.

71.1%

First-generation H1 antihistamines, primarily diphenhydramine were present in almost all deaths that tested positive for and involved histamines by 71.1%.

Source: CDC

15%

In 2019–2020, over 15% of fatal overdoses were antihistamine positive.

Source: CDC

3%

According to a 2017 study, nearly 3% of drug overdose fatalities in the United States involved diphenhydramine, the primary component of Benadryl.

Source: CDC


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Popular Benadryl Antihistamine Drug Names

Other common over-the-counter (OTC) brands that include the antihistamine diphenhydramine include:

  • Siladryl
  • Banophen
  • Unisom
  • Benadryl-D Allergy Plus Sinus
  • Sudafed PE Day/Night Sinus Congestion
  • Robitussin Severe Multi-Symptom Cough Cold + Flu Nighttime

Benadryl Overdose – 7 Negative Side Effects of Taking Benadryl

The negative side effects of taking Benadryl can heighten depending on the dose used. Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of diphenhydramine. Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired by these Benadryl overdose side effects.

Common side effects of Benadryl overdose may include:

  1. Drowsiness
  2. Dry eyes, blurred vision
  3. Dry mouth, nose, or throat
  4. Decreased urination
  5. Constipation
  6. Feeling restless or excited (especially in children)
  7. Day-time drowsiness or “hangover” feeling after night-time use

Stop using Benadryl and call your doctor at once if you have these side effects of overdose on Benadryl:

  • Little or no urinating
  • Pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Confusion, feeling like you might pass out
  • Tightness in your neck or jaw, uncontrollable movements of your tongue

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Causes Of Benadryl Overdose

A Benadryl overdose can lead to inevitable severe consequences to your health. Also, a Benadryl overdose can lead to acute toxicity. Benadryl overdose symptoms are similar to acute Benadryl overdose psychosis and often lead to hospitalization. Individuals should immediately seek immediate medical help in case of an overdose from this OTC medicine [5].

  • Toxicity
  • Suicide Intents
  • Accidental Overdose
  • Mixing Medications
  • Addiction and Misuse

The Complete List of Signs & Symptoms Of Benadryl Overdose

Signs of overdose on Benadryl symptoms can happen accidentally or on purpose; in certain situations, when Benadryl is used recreationally, combined with alcohol or other drugs, or taken in large doses on purpose, the risk of overdose increases. 

While intentional signs of Benadryl overdose or intoxication can be observed in people attempting self-harm or suicide, there is documentation of individuals using this medication to produce euphoric and pleasant effects. Overdose symptoms of Benadryl can include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Red and itchy skin
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth, eyes, and skin
  • A significant increase in heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Confusion and memory loss
  • Tachycardia
  • Drowsiness
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Fever
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Convulsion
  • Mild to severe seizures
  • Unsteadiness and walking difficulties
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Lack of sweating
  • Coma

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Can You Die From Benadryl Overdose?

Overdosing on Benadryl is conceivable, but not likely for most. Benadryl overdose deaths are not frequent, though they can and do occur. Get emergency medical help or call the Poison Control Center if you think someone else overdosed on a diphenhydramine product. If you visit the emergency room, remember when you took your medication, how much you took it, and its strength if you know it. Most people recover if antihistamine poisoning is treated during the first 24 hours. However, in some circumstances, lasting harm may result.

One of the potentially dangerous side effects of taking too many antihistamines is pneumonia, which can cause brain damage or pneumonia in some people. Additionally, although an antihistamine overdose seldom results in death, it might alter the heart’s rhythm, which can be fatal.

What happens if you overdose on Benadryl?

If you are wondering, “what happens when you overdose on Benadryl?”, the answer is that confusion, urinary retention, tachycardia, blurred vision, dry mouth, irritability, and hallucinations are among the common signs and symptoms of overdose. On an electrocardiogram, diphenhydramine-induced QRS widening and QTc prolongation can be seen.

How Many Benadryl Does It Take To Overdose?

How much Benadryl to trip? Every 4 to 6 hours, adults and children over the age of 12 should take 25 mg to 50 mg of Benadryl for mild allergy symptoms. The most you ought to consume in a day is 300 mg.

The dosage for kids between the ages of 6 and 11 is 12.5 mg to 25 mg as needed, given every 4 to 6 hours. More than 150 mg per day shouldn’t be given to kids in this age range.

The exact dosages are advised for Benadryl for allergy symptoms and motion sickness when taken off-label to prevent motion sickness. The medication should be administered about 30 minutes before the event which could produce motion sickness.

Adults and children over 12 can take 25 mg to 50 mg as needed 30 minutes before bedtime for insomnia. Benadryl should only be applied for this condition briefly. It is not advised to administer this sleep aid to youngsters younger than 12.

Is Benadryl Addictive

It is simple to believe that an over-the-counter medication like Benadryl cannot cause addiction. Contrary to what most people think, Benadryl is one of the most addicting medications available. Benadryl’s main component, diphenhydramine, is incredibly addictive. Although the medication treats diseases like sleeplessness, nausea, the common cold, and Parkinson’s sufferers’ tremors, it can become addictive daily in liquid, tablet, or capsule form.

Benadryl stops the body from producing histamine in response to drug or peanut allergies. Benadryl has a sedative effect when taken, which is why most people who experience insomnia utilize it as a sleep aid. The substance has grown to be the most overused because of its accessibility in pharmacies and grocery stores.

Benadryl Abuse

Benadryl can be abused if people use it incorrectly. Individuals may misuse Benadryl for delirium since it is so readily available. This is a dangerous practice. The symptoms can be severe and are even worse if the drug is combined with other substances like alcohol. A person can develop Benadryl tolerance and addiction. Many people who abuse medications containing these ingredients experience side effects like hallucinations and sleepiness.

It is also possible to experience a Benadryl overdose, causing dangerous toxicity to the body. Over the past years, there have been alarming incidents of Benadryl-related suicide attempts reported to the Missouri Poison Center. When this medication is used excessively or for long periods, users may experience serious mental complications and dementia-type symptoms.

Our NJ drug abuse treatment center is sharing more information about Benadryl overdose and it can happen.
Our NJ drug abuse treatment center is sharing more information about Benadryl overdose and it can happen.

Signs Of Benadryl Abuse

The signs of Benadryl abuse or substance abuse of any kind are not always visible. Here is what to watch out for if you suspect a loved one may be abusing Benadryl: 

  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion or difficulty processing information
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Poor coordination
  • Loss of appetite 

Signs of Benadryl abuse that are more difficult to notice may include chest tightness, physical weakness, headache, or gastrointestinal distress. 

Interactions Between Benadryl And Alcohol

The term “drug overdose” often involves undertones of illegal drugs or intentional abuse. However, some seemingly harmless over-the-counter (OTC) medications can still result in risk when combined with some other kinds of drugs. One example of such a combination is Benadryl and alcohol. Both are regularly found in homes in the US, so the risk of accidental mixing of the two can be dangerous.

The combination of alcohol and Benadryl can lead to a heavily sedated condition and trouble thinking. Most of the danger begins when someone has attempted to drive or operate machinery. Since the state induced by Benadryl and alcohol is similar to a very drunken state, driving brings all the risks of drunk driving.

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Benadryl Addiction Treatment

Benadryl abuse and addiction affect not only users physically but psychologically and emotionally as well. In addition, relapse is often possible because of the symptoms associated with antihistamine withdrawal, including those who developed a dependency on this medication. 

Moreover, people addicted to diphenhydramine often have concomitant addictions to alcohol and other drugs. Hence, asking for expert help in a drug abuse treatment center might be an option that users can consider if they struggle to overcome their substance abuse disorders. 

The professional guidance and assistance provided in an inpatient setting can offer the client a better understanding of their addiction and help them effectively recover. A tailored program can be developed for a specific person’s case. During treatment, the client is also offered several therapies to help them recover control over their lives. These may include:

  • Psychological therapies
  • Counseling
  • Meetings
  • Support groups for family addicts
  • Individual and group therapies

After the client has fully recovered from their addiction, they may be required to engage in after-care support programs to guarantee that they do not relapse and continue on their road to recovery.

Top Benadryl Overdose FAQs

  1. Is it possible to overdose on Melatonin and Benadryl?

    Yes, it is possible to overdose on Melatonin and Benadryl if you take high amounts of both of them together. You should avoid mixing these medications together because this combination can result in dangerous side effects.

  2. How many Benadryl can you take without overdosing?

    If you are wondering, “how much Benadryl does it take to overdose?”, “how many Benadryl to trip?”, “is it possible to overdose on Benadryl?”, “how many benadryls to take to trip?”, “can you overdose Benadryl?”, “how long does it take to overdose on benadryl?”, “how much Benadryl does it take to trip?”, “how many benadryls does it take to overdose”, “how much Benadryl is an overdose?”, “how much Benadryl would cause overdose”, “how many Benadryl to overdose?”, or “how much Benadryl to overdose?”, the answer is that taking oral Benadryl products more than six times per day is not advised. The daily maximum for adults and kids over the age of 12 is 300 mg. The daily maximum for children aged 6 to 12 is 150 mg.

  3. Can you overdose on Benadryl and alcohol?

    The drug Benadryl is potent. It must not be consumed with alcohol in order to be used safely. Alcohol and the drug can interact dangerously, impairing motor control and alertness, and causing extreme drowsiness.

  4. What happens during an Benadryl and Ibuprofen overdose?

    Ibuprofen and Benadryl combined in excess can cause severe sleepiness, blurred vision, elevated heart rate, confusion, seizures, and even coma. Dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, high blood pressure, and hallucinations are some additional symptoms that could occur.

  5. What happens during an Benadryl and Klonopin overdose?

    Other benzodiazepine drugs should not be taken with Klonopin. When taking Klonopin with other drowsy medications, care should be taken because Klonopin itself has drowsiness-inducing potential. These might consist of: Diphenhydramine, among other antihistamines (Benadryl)

  6. What happens during an Benadryl and Xanax overdose?

    There are no known interactions between Benadryl and Xanax, Vistaril, or Claritin (loratadine) (cetirizine). Benadryl should not typically be taken with any of these medications unless your doctor advises it.

  7. Can you overdose on Benadryl and Nyquil?

    When Benadryl and Nyquil are taken together, the likelihood of experiencing side effects like drowsiness, blurred vision, dry mouth, heat intolerance, flushing, decreased sweating, difficulty urinating, abdominal cramps, constipation, an irregular heartbeat, confusion, and memory issues may increase.

  8. Can you overdose on Tylenol and Benadryl?

    A fatal overdose from taking too much Tylenol or Benadryl is possible.

  9. What is the half life of benadryl?

    The half-life of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is generally between 4 and 8 hours in adults. This means that it takes about 4-8 hours for the body to eliminate half of the drug. The half-life can vary depending on factors such as age, liver function, and other medications being taken.

    It’s important to note that the half-life of a medication is not the same as its duration of action. Benadryl can cause drowsiness and other side effects that can last longer than the drug’s half-life. It’s also important to take Benadryl only as directed by a healthcare provider, as taking too much can lead to serious side effects.

  10. Is Benadryl tripping dangerous?

    If you are wondering, “how long does a Benadryl trip last?”, the answer is roughly four to six hours. Tripping on Benadryl is extremely dangerous and can include negative side effects like confusion, delirium, psychosis, organ damage, overheating, convulsions, coma, and death.

Find The Right Addiction Treatment At We Level Up NJ

A key thing to understand is that addiction cannot be controlled: it’s not a choice. The reasons why someone may begin using harmful substances, to begin with, are numerous. You don’t need to know how or why someone is addicted to Benadryl trips to get them help.

With the help of a doctor, licensed counselor, or other professional, you can plan an intervention. During an intervention, loved ones will discuss how the struggling person has impacted them, propose a treatment plan, and explain their options if they decline treatment. 

Benadryl overdose can occur accidentally or on purpose.
Overdose in Benadryl can occur accidentally or on purpose.

Suppose you or your loved one is worried that the Benadryl dependency or abuse may lead to a life-threatening overdose Benadryl. In that case, indeed, help is just a phone call away. Professional prescription drug addiction treatment is necessary for fast and effective recovery. Contact us at We Level Up NJ Treatment Facility to learn more. We provide the utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We provide an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

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Sources

[1] FDA – https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-warns-about-serious-problems-high-doses-allergy-medicine-diphenhydramine-benadryl

[2] Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriaforster/2020/09/02/teen-dies-after-doing–tiktok-benadryl-challengeas-doctors-warn-of-dangers/?sh=12ab1458f0db

[3] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8138162/

[4] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557578/

[5] NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/over-counter-medicines

[6] We Level UpPrescription Drug Abuse

[7] Church, M. K., et al. (2013). Pharmacology of antihistaminesIndian Journal of Dermatology.

[8] Food and Drug Administration. (2015). OTC drug facts label.

FDA warns about serious problems with high doses of allergy medicine diphenhydramine (Benadryl). https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-warns-about-serious-problems-high-doses-allergy-medicine-diphenhydramine-benadryl. Accessed 8/26/2021.

Dangerous ‘Benadryl Challenge’ on Tik Tok may be to blame for the death of Oklahoma teen. KFOR News. https://kfor.com/news/local/dangerous-benadryl-challenge-on-tik-tok-blamed-for-the-death-of-oklahoma-teen/

Aronson JK. Anticholinergic drugs. In: Aronson JK, ed. Meyler’s Side Effects of Drugs. 16th ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier; 2016:534-539.

Eiwegger T, Simons FER, Akdis CA. Histamine and antihistamines. In: Burks AW, Holgate ST, O’Hehir RE, et al. eds. Middleton’s Allergy: Principles and Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020: chap 92.

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