Unisom is an over-the-counter drug that provides relief for short-term sleeplessness. It contains doxylamine succinate as the active ingredient. This ingredient is an antihistamine that works by blocking the effects of histamine, a substance produced by the body in response to allergens. Therefore, besides treating short-term insomnia, Unisom can also treat allergies. It is also used to treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Since some insomnia drugs have this characteristic, you may wonder if it is addictive, is Unisom safe to take every night, and if you can take it if you have chronic insomnia. Let’s find out.
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Is Unisom Addictive?
Unisom is one of the non-habit-forming sleep aids because it induces sleep naturally by blocking histamines. But that doesn’t mean you can use it every night for an extended period. Since the purpose is to treat short-term insomnia, you should only take it for two weeks. Treatment of a longer duration brings a risk of developing a dependence, which can lead to becoming tolerant to the effects of the drug.
It means that after two weeks, the desired effect of the sleep aid Unisom may be reduced while the risk of getting side effects increases. After using Unisom for a long time, you might have withdrawal symptoms once you stop it. Even so, the chances of all this happening are lower than with other sleep aids.
How to Use Unisom
Unisom comes in various forms, including tablets, gel capsules, liquid, and chewable gummies. Since Unisom is an over-the-counter medicine, you can take it without a prescription. In that case, read the label to see the instructions for using it. But if a doctor has prescribed the drug, follow the instructions given.
The recommended daily dose for an adult is a single tablet, which contains 25 mg of doxylamine succinate, 30 minutes before bedtime. But the dosage for the SleepGels is 50 mg diphenhydramine HCl. Sometimes, the doses may vary based on one’s health and age. But unless directed by a physician, the safest dose is not more than 50mg a day during nighttime. Its effect can last 6 hours or longer depending on individual cases, so you should make sure you have enough time to devote to sleep.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Avoid taking two doses to compensate for the missed one.
Side Effects of Unisom
Unisom has the potential to cause side effects just like any other medicine. If you don’t sleep enough after taking the medicine, you might get drowsy during the day, so you shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery to avoid accidents.
Common side effects of Unisom include:
- Dry mouth, throat, and nose
- Drowsiness or mild dizziness
- Blurred vision
Side effects may vary from one person to another. In some cases, serious side effects may occur, including
- Confusion or hallucination
- Urinary problems
- Severe drowsiness. Older people may have the risk of falling due to dizziness.
Also, some individuals may exhibit signs of allergic reactions like facial swelling and difficulty breathing.
Ask your doctor about how to take Unisom in your particular case.
Unisom Vs. Benadryl
Unisom and Benadryl are both antihistamines but despite this similarity, they also have differences. Unisom containing doxylamine succinate is primarily marketed as a sleep aid, while Benadryl containing diphenhydramine hydrochloride is typically used to relieve allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and runny nose.
Both medications can cause drowsiness, but Unisom may be more effective for promoting sleep because it is formulated specifically for that purpose.
Another difference between the two is the recommended dosages depending on the intended use. Unisom SleepTab is usually prescribed as a single 25 mg tablet before bed for sleeplessness. On the other hand, Benadryl is typically prescribed in doses of 25 mg-50mg, taken three to four times a day for allergies, and a single 50mg dose 30 minutes before bed to aid in sleep.
Precautions Before Using Unisom
If you have insomnia and want to use Unisom, let your doctor or pharmacist know if you have a pre-existing medical condition. It’s crucial to do so, especially if you have urinary tract problems, glaucoma, enlarged prostate, stomach illnesses, and any lung disease. These conditions may get worse after taking the drug.
Also, inform them of any medicines you’re currently taking. In case the drugs you’re taking slow your breathing rate and make you drowsy, taking Unisom can also worsen these conditions. That can happen if you’re currently using medicines for depression, seizures, anxiety, and narcotic pain relievers.
Breastfeeding women should avoid taking the drug as they can pass it on to their children. It’s also advisable to avoid alcohol while taking Unisom, as it may worsen the effects of doxylamine.
Unisom is only recommended for temporary insomnia. It is generally safe as it is non-habit forming if you follow the doctor’s instructions. Using it for a long time may not necessarily result in addiction, but it’s likely to lead to tolerance. Therefore, take it occasionally when you need a good night’s sleep. And if you experience undesirable effects, discontinue the drug and ask your doctor for an alternative medicine.