Unisom sleep tabs side effects

Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength

Generic Name: diphenhydramine (DYE fen HYE dra meen)
Brand Name: Allergy Relief (Diphenhydramine HCl), Allermax, Banophen, Benadryl, Compoz Nighttime Sleep Aid, Diphedryl, Diphenhist, Dytuss, Nytol QuickCaps, PediaCare Children’s Allergy, Q-Dryl, QlearQuil Nightitme Allergy Relief, Quenalin, Scot-Tussin Allergy Relief Formula, Siladryl Allergy, Silphen Cough, Simply Sleep, Sleepinal, Sominex, Tranquil, Twilite, Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength, Valu-Dryl, Vanamine PD, Z-Sleep, ZzzQuil

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Apr 8, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

  • Overview
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  • Interactions
  • Pregnancy
  • More

What is Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength?

Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of natural chemical histamine in the body. Histamine can produce symptoms of sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and runny nose.

Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength is used to treat sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, hives, skin rash, itching, and other cold or allergy symptoms.

Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength is also used to treat motion sickness, to induce sleep, and to treat certain symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not use antihistamine medication to make a child sleepy.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength if you are allergic to it.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to take Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength if you have other medical conditions, especially:

  • blockage in your digestive tract (stomach or intestines);

  • bladder obstruction or other urination problems;

  • a colostomy or ileostomy;

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other breathing disorder;

  • cough with mucus, or cough caused by smoking, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis;

  • heart disease, low blood pressure;

  • glaucoma;

  • a thyroid disorder; or

  • if you take potassium (Cytra, Epiklor, K-Lyte, K-Phos, Kaon, Klor-Con, Polycitra, Urocit-K).

It is not known whether Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength will harm an unborn baby. Ask a doctor before using this medicine if you are pregnant.

Diphenhydramine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Antihistamines may also slow breast milk production. Ask a doctor before using this medicine if you are breast-feeding.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from this medicine.

How should I take Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Cold or allergy medicine is usually taken only for a short time until your symptoms clear up.

Do not give this medication to a child younger than 2 years old. Always ask a doctor before giving a cough or cold medicine to a child. Death can occur from the misuse of cough and cold medicines in very young children.

You should not use antihistamine medication to make a child sleepy.

Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

For motion sickness, take Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength 30 minutes before you will be in a situation that causes you motion sickness (such as a long car ride, airplane or boat travel, amusement park rides, etc). Continue taking this medicine with meals and at bedtime for the rest of the time you will be in a motion-sickness situation.

As a sleep aid, take Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength within 30 minutes before bedtime.

Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 7 days of treatment, or if you have a fever with a headache, cough, or skin rash.

This medication can affect the results of allergy skin tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength is used when needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are on a schedule, use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength?

This medication may cause blurred vision and may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert and able to see clearly.

Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of diphenhydramine.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other cold, cough, allergy, or sleep medicine. Antihistamines are contained in many combination medicines. Taking certain products together can cause you to get too much of this type of medicine. Check the label to see if a medicine contains an antihistamine.

Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;

  • painful or difficult urination;

  • little or no urinating;

  • confusion, feeling like you might pass out; or

  • tightness in your neck or jaw, uncontrollable movements of your tongue.

Common side effects may include:

  • dizziness, drowsiness, loss of coordination;

  • dry mouth, nose, or throat;

  • constipation, upset stomach;

  • dry eyes, blurred vision; or

  • day-time drowsiness or “hangover” feeling after night-time use.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength?

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength if you are also using any other drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Some medicines can cause unwanted or dangerous effects when used together. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Taking this medicine with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can worsen these effects. Ask your doctor before taking Unisom Sleepgels Maximum Strength with a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 6.01.

Related questions

  • What is the difference between diphenhydramine hydrochloride and diphenhydramine citrate?

Medical Disclaimer

More about Unisom SleepGels (diphenhydramine)

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  • En Español
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  • Drug class: anticholinergic antiparkinson agents

Consumer resources

Other brands: Benadryl, Banophen, Benadryl Allergy, ZzzQuil, … +25 more

Professional resources

  • Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride (AHFS Monograph)
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Related treatment guides

  • Insomnia

PMC

DISCUSSION

Doxylamine is a member of the ethanolaime class of antihistamines, available as an over the counter sleep aid. Doxylamine has a half life of roughly 10 h and is metabolised by the liver into N-demethyl doxylamine and N,N-didemethyl doxylamine.1,2 While considered benign, drug overdose can lead to toxicity with antihistaminergic/anticholenergic effects. Doxylamine, like other antihistamines, competitively inhibits histamine at the H1 receptor and also has anticholinergic effects. There have reports of doxylamine toxicity causing seizures, rhabdomyolysis and anticholinergic effects, including tachycardia, flushing, mydriasis, confusion and hypertension.3–5 There appears to be no correlation between the plasma level of doxylamine and its toxic clinical sequelae.4 The majority of patients with doxylamine toxicity who present with anticholinergic symptoms also have acutely elevated CPK levels.3–5 Here we present a case of delayed elevation of CPK levels with a false positive urine methadone drug screen.

It has been suggested that antihistamines cause a direct toxic effect on striated muscle by injuring the sarcolemma, thereby causing an influx of sodium. A higher intracellular sodium concentration activates Na/K ATPase, thereby depleting cellular ATP. Increased intracellular sodium also leads to higher intracellular calcium levels which can then activate proteolytic enzymes.6 The combined depletion of ATP and activated intracellular enzymes leads to myocyte injury, rhabdomyolysis and release of muscle enzymes such as CPK and myoglobin.6 Treatment involves aggressive hydration with monitoring of serum electrolytes and renal function. Seizures due to anticholinergic effects can be treated with diazepam, followed by phenytoin and phenobarbital, as needed.4 The cautious use of physostigmine, the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, has been suggested for severe refractory delirium unresponsive to high doses of benzodiazepines, resistant seizures and haemodynamically unstable and resistant narrow complex supraventricular arrhythmias.7 Our patient’s acute symptoms may have been due to an initial peak of doxylamine in the plasma (2.4 h) while the delayed rise in CPK may be explained by the drug’s prolonged elimination half life (10.1 h).1 However, daily monitoring of doxylamine and its metabolites in the plasma would be needed to support such a hypothesis. Nonetheless, delayed muscle toxicity has been reported after overdose with other drugs (eg, venlafaxine and olanzapine).8,9

Drug screening on patients who are hospitalised is typically performed on urine specimens using immunoassays. Confirmatory testing usually involves either gas chromatography or mass spectrometry.10 Assays for methadone are specific and detect the parent compound as only about a third of the drug is excreted unchanged.10 Furthermore, doxylamine is excreted as the unchanged drug and two N-demethylated products (N-demethyl doxylamine and N,N-didemethyl doxylamine).2 There is evidence that doxylamine at toxic levels can lead to false positive methadone2,11 and phencyclidine12 results using immunoassay-based urine drug screen kits. It seems likely that our patient’s doxylamine level was elevated enough to give such a false positive result, which may be attributed to the similarity between parent compounds (fig 1).

Chemical structure of methadone (A) and doxylamine (B).

Doxylamine, like other drugs available over the counter, is prone to abuse and is often employed during suicide attempts. Knowledge of the clinical presentation of doxylamine toxicity and the management of acute overdose can aid the clinician in terms of treatment. Knowing that doxylamine at toxic levels can give false positive results on routine urine drug screening and that confirmatory testing may be in required can also be of clinical value.

LEARNING POINTS

  • Doxylamine is an over the counter sleep aid with anticholinergic side effects when taken at toxic doses that can lead to seizures, rhabdomylosis, including a delayed rhabdomyloysis, and potentially death.

  • Doxylamine-induced seizures can be treated with benzodiazepines and rhabdomylosis treated with aggressive hydration.

  • Urine drug screen testing using immunoassay kits can give false positive methadone and phencyclidine tests in patients with doxylamine toxicity. In certain clinical settings positive drug screen testing should be confirmed using either gas chromatography or mass spectrometry confirmatory tests.

KeepRxSafe.com Information about Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs (RX and OTC Drugs)

What is an over-the-counter sleep aid?

An over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid is any of a number of medications that is intended to treat occasional sleepless nights (not insomnia). As the name implies, a prescription is not required to obtain these medicines. These medications typically contain antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (such as Nyquil™) and doxylamine (such as Benadryl™), or some form of pain killer. They are not to be confused with prescription sleep aids, many of which are hypnotics and which are generally prescribed to treat insomnia. There are numerous commercially available OTC products sold as sleep aids, including, but not limited to, SleepMax PM™, Unisom™, Simply Sleep™, Advil PM™, and Tylenol PM™.

How, why, and how often are over-the-counter sleep aids abused?

OTC sleep aids tend to make people drowsy or less alert. Studies related to some of the key ingredients in these medications, including diphenhydramine, have found that there is a potential for human abuse of these substances. Studies of the precise extent to which OTC sleep aids (again, to be differentiated from prescription sleep aids) are being abused by adolescents are not prevalent in the literature. However, antihistamines, including those found in OTC sleep aids, can be (and often are) ingested in large quantities by individuals who are attempting suicide.

On the other hand, prescription sleep aid abuse is becoming more prevalent; use of prescription pills among younger adults (ages 20-44) doubled between 2000 and 2004, and, during that time, the number of sleep aid prescriptions given to children and adolescents climbed 85%. Interestingly, abuse of prescription sleep aids is not usually associated with insomnia, but, rather, with excessive dosages and alcohol/other drug use. It is important to recognize that OTC and prescription sleep aids are very different substances and that their uses and potential for abuse are very different.

What problems can arise from over-the-counter sleep aid abuse?

Because OTC sleep aids tend to make people drowsy, they should not be taken by individuals who are using alcohol or other drugs with sedating effects, as the interaction is potentially dangerous. OTC sleep aids also have negative interactions in people with preexisting breathing problems, glaucoma, chronic bronchitis, pregnancy (or nursing), or trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland. Furthermore, OTC sleep aid use can cause daytime sleepiness on the following day, depending on the person, if the drug remains in the system longer than the sleeping period. These medications should not be taken for more than 7 to 10 days in a row as the user may experience negative side effects.

What else should I know about over-the-counter sleep aids?

An overdose of OTC sleep aids can be fatal, and needs to be treated seriously. Again; OTC sleep aids are not designed to treat insomnia, and should not be taken over a long period of time.

Staff. (2008). Sleep aids. Retrieved online on 7/10/08, from: http://www.merck.com/mmhe.

Staff. (2008). Sleep aids. Retrieved online on 7/10/08 from: http://www.walgreens.com.

Khosla, U., Ruel, K., and Hunt, D.P. (2003). Antihistamine-induced Rhabdomyolysis. Southern Medical Journal, 96(10), 1023-1026.

Staff. (2006). Sleep aid abuse getting more attention. Alcohol & Drug Use Weekly, 18(2), 8.

Unisom

Generic Name: doxylamine (dox IL a meen)
Brand Name: Unisom

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Jan 1, 2020 – Written by Cerner Multum

  • Overview
  • Side Effects
  • Dosage
  • Interactions
  • Pregnancy
  • Reviews
  • More

What is Unisom?

Unisom is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of natural chemical histamine in the body. Histamine can produce symptoms of sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and runny nose. Antihistamines can cause drowsiness and are sometimes used a sleep aids.

Unisom is used to treat sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, hives, skin rash, itching, and other cold or allergy symptoms.

Unisom is also used as a short-term treatment for sleep problems (insomnia).

Unisom may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

You should not use Unisom if you are allergic to it.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to take Unisom if you have other medical conditions, especially:

  • glaucoma;

  • an enlarged prostate;

  • problems with urination; or

  • asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, or other chronic lung disease.

Older adults may be more sensitive to the effects of this medicine.

Unisom is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not use this medicine without a doctor’s advice if you are pregnant.

Doxylamine may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Antihistamines may also slow breast milk production. Do not use this medicine without a doctor’s advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take Unisom?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. This medicine is usually taken only for a short time until your symptoms clear up.

Do not use Unisom to treat insomnia in a child younger than 12 years old. Ask a doctor before using this medicine to treat cold or allergy symptoms in a child younger than 6 years old. Always ask a doctor before giving a cold or allergy medicine to a child. Death can occur from the misuse of these medicines in very young children.

Take this medicine with food or milk if it upsets your stomach.

To treat insomnia, it is best to take Unisom only when you can devote several hours to sleep. Follow your doctor’s instructions.

Call your doctor if your cold or allergy symptoms do not improve after 7 days of treatment, or if your sleep problems do not improve after 2 weeks of treatment.

This medication can cause you to have unusual results with allergy skin tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are taking an antihistamine.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

When treating insomnia, if it is almost your normal waking hour, skip the missed dose and wait until you are ready for bed again.

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include severe forms of some of the side effects listed in this medication guide.

What should I avoid while taking Unisom?

Unisom may cause blurred vision and may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert and able to see clearly.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other cold, cough, allergy, or sleep medicine. Many combination medicines contain antihistamines. Taking certain products together can cause you to get too much of this medicine.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other cold, cough, allergy, or sleep medicine. Antihistamines are contained in many combination medicines. Taking certain products together can cause you to get too much of a certain drug. Check the label to see if a medicine contains an antihistamine.

Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of doxylamine.

Avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated during exercise and in hot weather. Unisom can decrease sweating and you may be more prone to heat stroke.

Unisom side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • confusion, hallucinations;

  • severe dizziness or drowsiness; or

  • little or no urinating.

Common side effects may include:

  • blurred vision;

  • dry mouth, nose, or throat;

  • constipation; or

  • mild dizziness or drowsiness.

Side effects such as dry mouth, constipation, and confusion may be more likely in older adults.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

More about Unisom SleepTabs (doxylamine)

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  • 54 Reviews
  • Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics

Other brands: Sleep Aid, Nighttime Sleepaid

  • Doxylamine Succinate (AHFS Monograph)
  • Insomnia

Sleeping Pills and Alcohol: Effects & Treatment

In today’s fast-paced society, quality sleep is a rare gem. Many people have trouble sleeping and turn to over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids for help. When used sparingly, these medications can be a godsend for people struggling with insomnia. But when overused or combined with other drugs and alcohol, serious side effects, physical dependence and overdose can occur.

In a national health survey published by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 4% of adults aged 20 and older reported over-using prescription sleep aids in the last 30 days.1

Historically, there have been several different types of sedatives and hypnotics used to manage insomnia including:2,3

It is advised to never mix sleeping pills with alcohol because the interaction can be dangerous and even potentially fatal. Even small amounts of alcohol combined with sleeping pills can cause dizziness, confusion and fainting. Alcohol use can actually cause or exacerbate existing insomnia, which defeats the purpose of sleeping pills.2,3,4

Side Effects and Risks of Mixing Sleeping Pills and Alcohol

Because there are so many different types of sleeping pills, their exact interactions with alcohol may differ slightly, some being more dangerous than others. But in general, it is advised to never mix sedatives or hypnotics with alcohol. Combining sleeping pills with alcohol can increase the sedating effects of both, thus seriously increasing the risk of overdose.2,3,4

Drinking even one alcoholic beverage in combination with sleeping pills can be dangerous. Many sleeping pills are known to cause sleepwalking and memory loss. People have reported engaging in behaviors such as eating, talking on the phone, and sometimes even driving a motor vehicle with no recollection after taking a sleeping pill. Combined with alcohol, the risks of blackout periods are even higher.4,5

The side effects of mixing alcohol and sleeping pills include:3,4,5

  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness/disorientation.
  • Impaired motor control.
  • Memory problems.
  • Slowed heart rate.
  • Slowed or difficulty breathing.
  • Lowered blood pressure.
  • Unusual behavior.
  • Increased risk of overdose.
  • Death.

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