Is Benadryl Best?

Posted on: Tue, 07/06/1999 - 2:25pm
ElizabethsMom's picture
Joined: 04/17/1999 - 09:00

I am posing a question....What has your allergist recommended for antihistamine? Are you aware of the reason and the alternatives? Have you discussed it with her/him?

I pose this because I continually see members discussing Benadryl and am curious how popular it is for treatment. Our allergist has prescribed Claritin simply because, unlike a traditional antihistamine such as Benadryl, it does not cause drowsiness. Why is that important? Well, in our case, when our daughter (18 mos.) has a reaction we are supposed to watch her for signs of anaphylaxis, specifically an "alteration of consciousness" which looks like drowsiness as brought on by Benadryl.

I would love to hera the experiences of you all and the opinions of your physicians....


Posted on: Tue, 07/06/1999 - 10:59pm
Kelly Morse's picture
Joined: 03/13/1999 - 09:00

Kristin - We use Benadryl at least twice a week for minor allergic reactions (we are hoping to identify the triggers at a July 26th appt with a new allergist - we already know about peanuts, eggs and soy). Spencer does not get tired from the Benadryl and functions perfectly. I, on other hand, could not spell my name an hour after taking it because I could not wake up. I know a lot of meds cause different reactions between adults and children. Spencer does not take Clartin so I don't know how he would react with both in his system.
I was a little concern about what you said about watching for signs. I guess to me that means that you are waiting to give treatment. If your little one has eaten something that you know them to be highly allergic too, treat them right away, don't wait. We have seen two anaphylatic reactions in our son since June 15th (one from peanuts, the other unknown) and it was very apparent to me what was happening even with a double dose of Benadryl and Epi meds. I had never seen an anaphylatic reaction in Spencer before this (his first one at 4 mos old was with his grandparents).
You know your child inside and out and probably can tell when they are getting a cold even before the coughing starts. Trust your inner voice.
You asked about other meds...My daughter who gets hives from bug bites just started taking Zyrtec on an as needed basis. It worked wonderfully. In fact it got rid of the hives even after two doses of Benadryl didn't touch it.
I hope this helped some. I think allergies in small children are especially difficult because they cannot talk and tell you what is happening. Spencer is almost to the point where he can communicate symptoms to us (22 mos old) but until then we are relying on the non-verbal (e.g. grabbing the head or throat, swelling, hives, change in behavior).
Good luck and take care!
Kelly M
Another Mom in Michigan

Posted on: Wed, 07/07/1999 - 12:36am
Christine's picture
Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

This subject was actually brought up a few weeks ago; however, I don't know which thread it fell under. Someone eventually stated that Benadryl is the most rapidly absorbed of the antihistamines. While Claritan and Zyrtec may be stronger and last longer, Benadryl is the most "fast-acting". I think the other two take up to one hour to be absorbed while Benadryl is absorbed within 20 minutes. I don't know if this is "fact"--this is just what was said. I think it is probably safe to use both meds simultaneously in the event of a reaction. The Bendadryl to work right away and the Zyrtec or Claritan to give a long term effect.

Posted on: Wed, 07/07/1999 - 4:56am
ElizabethsMom's picture
Joined: 04/17/1999 - 09:00

Kelly - Elizabeth has not had an anaphylactic reaction. Hers has been limited to head-to-toe body hives in cases of ingestion and contact hives in the area of skin exposure when touching peanut. Yes, the watching for signs concerns me too, specifically because she is only 18 months and can't tell me what is happening. Our allergist does not believe Elizabeth will be a likely candidate for anaphylactic shock based on her previous reactions and wants us to monitor any future reactions before administering the EpiPen as he strongly believes the antihistamine is all the treatment she will require.
Christine - I will try to look for that other thread. I have a call in to the makers of Claritin to get the info on exactly how long it takes to be absorbed into one's system.
Thanks again! I look forward to hearing more expriences and treatment options....

Posted on: Wed, 07/07/1999 - 5:28am
armiger's picture
Joined: 05/15/1999 - 09:00

I am concerned that your allergist told you your daughter would not be a candidate for anaphylactics!! Is anyone else with me? I was under the impression that with a peanut allergic child, you always have to assume the risk of anaphylactics! Do you have epi-pens just in case? Head to toe hives and hives from touch contact only..sounds pretty serious to me! Tammy

Posted on: Wed, 07/07/1999 - 5:51am
tracy's picture
Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

When our son got hives and vomited upon his first known exposure to peanuts, our allergist wrote down "anaphylaxis" in his report. It doesn't just mean that you can't breath. I think it means that a major organ has been affected by the allergy.

Posted on: Wed, 07/07/1999 - 7:07am
Valerie's picture
Joined: 01/27/1999 - 09:00

Our son only had 8 hives after ingesting peanut butter and had a fairly small reaction to the skin test this last time. The RAST test was negative. We were STILL told to treat any ingestion as potentially anaphylactic. We were told to give the epi, the Benadryl and call the ambulance right away. I agree with the allergist and rather not take the chance. People have had deadly reactions after only having mild reactions previously. We have been reassured multiple times that the epi is not going to hurt him but not using it could.

Posted on: Wed, 07/07/1999 - 12:02pm
Colleen's picture
Joined: 02/04/1999 - 09:00

Hi Elizabeth's mom:
I too agree with the others: every reaction is different and just because one may not be classified as anaphylactic, the next one certainly may be. I had thought that our son was only mildly allergic to peanuts when he was a toddler, as he had only had hives, watery eyes, etc. And then we were totally caught off guard one time when we were camping and had to rush him to the hospital. He was in bad shape when we got there,but thankfully we got there in time. As far as we know, that time he did not even "eat" any pb,
but there was an open jar in the room. Now, we won't let him anywhere near pb, and are always are prepared for the worst reaction even though he has
had to reactions since then (where he did accidentally eat them) and those reactions were not nearly as bad as the other. One thing that I have learned from this board is not just to rely on the advice of one allergist. There seems to be a lot of disagreement from the so called "experts" and it is really the parents that become the most knowledgeable after dealing with it personally and hearing other parents stories.
Good luck and be prepared!

Posted on: Wed, 07/07/1999 - 3:03pm
ElizabethsMom's picture
Joined: 04/17/1999 - 09:00

I appreciate everyone's concern. One of the comforting aspects of this site is that members are secure enough to question treatment plans in order to provide the safest possible course of action for ourselves or our children.
No, we aren't relying on the advice of one allergist - we have seen two allergists (one a pediatric allergist), one pediatrician who referred us to the allergists and then sought the advice of a third allegist specializing in food allergies and all concur with this course of treatment, specifically withholding the Epi IF the reaction only involves hives.
My wording was confusing in my last post. To clarify, our doctors have all said that Elizabeth isn't LIKELY to have an anaphylactic reaction and did not in any way state that she isn't a candidate for a severe reaction. Of course all food allergic individuals have that possibility and we therefore prepare for a worse-case scenario.
Her reactions have been mild. In fact, she enjoyed quite a few peanut butter cookies before we even noticed she was getting hives. Full-strength peanut butter resulted in total body hives but no involvement from other organs. Contact with peanut butter produces hives in the area directly touched. We realize this may change.
We have assumed that the possibility of anaphylaxis is there and carry not one, not two but three EpiPens with us at all times, plus Claritin and detailed emergency plans for the locations we regularly visit. As with any reaction we are to take her to the hospital immediately to both monitor the first stage reaction and the subsequent possibility of a second stage reaction as the peanut is progressively ingested.
The difference in courses of treatment perhaps is a result of the severity, or in our case lack thereof, of the past reactions. All three MD's that have seen Elizabeth have informed me that although we take precautions as if each food allergic person's reactions will increase in severity (to err on the safe side), a majority of cases remain stable over the long term.
Therefore, for us antihistamine (Claritin) plus professional monitoring remain a first line of defense when the reaction is apparent as skin-only. We have the option of self-treating with EpiPen on the way to the hospital should the reaction involve more than hives. I should note that in our area a trip to the hospital covers a distance less than one mile and we would safely make it within the window of time to administer Epinephrine to head off a major reaction.
Which brings me back to the original question of the merits of one type of antihistamine over others and which is really the best in treating a reaction. Since it is our first line of defense I am interested in ferreting out the best brand and hearing the reasons others MD's have given for choosing a specific antihistamine.
Your advice is taken to heart and I will be taking several of these issues to our allergist to make sure his original plan was on target.

Posted on: Wed, 07/07/1999 - 10:21pm
Christine's picture
Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

If you are going to use Claritan for your child you may want to talk to the allergist about using the new, rapid dissolving tablets. While they are adult strength, they do prescribe them for children as my son uses them during hayfever season. Especially during a reaction, an adult dose might be good. The benefit of the fast dissolve Claritan is that it is one of the most rapidly absorbed antihistamines.

Posted on: Thu, 07/08/1999 - 8:50am
Shan's picture
Joined: 04/05/1999 - 09:00

I was wondering about this myself. Our allergist told us not to bother with Benadryl and gave us a prescription for Zrytec. He said it was stronger, but I've since read on here Benadryl is faster acting. This concerns me. He really didn't advise either. He said at the first sign of ANYTHING to give the EpiPen Jr. Then I can give the Zrytec if she is still reacting. This happened last time. They gave her some epi, then after a few minutes she was still itching, despite the hives disappearing so they gave her some Zyrtec. I have noticed she doesn't get drowsy with either medicine. The other day she got a red spot on her face after eating some soup. I wasn't sure about it. So, I gave her some Zyrtec instead of the EpiPen Jr. She was fine. My gut told me to do this. I think I've just become way paranoid and everytime she has one little red spot I freak...By the way, is everyone's child on here have super sensitive skin? Shan [img][/img]


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