What is chlorpheniramine maleate?

Chlorpheniramine is an antihistamine commonly used by doctors to treat allergic reactions such as allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis and to relieve symptoms like watery eyes, watery nose, nasal itchiness and skin itchiness. It works by blocking the chemical substance called histamine which is released by body cells in response to exposure to triggers like house dust mites, pollen, dander, and smoke or air pollutants. This blockage occurs at the H1 receptor at various systems like gastrointestinal, respiratory and blood vessels.

Generally, chlorpheniramine is available in many forms including tablet, extended release capsules and liquid with different generic names. Commonly, the liquid form is prescribed for children while the tablet and extended release capsule form is prescribed for adults.

For chlorpheniramine in liquid form, make sure to use a proper measuring device provided together with the medication to allow accurate measurement of dosage to prevent excessive side effects. Meanwhile, the tablet or extended release capsule form has to be taken as whole without chewing or crushing them, as crushing them can release the medication at all once which has the risk to increase the side effects. Do not split the medication unless you have been told by your doctor to do so.

Common dosage of chlorpheniramine is in the form of 4mg tablets or 4mg/5ml syrup form. Bear in mind to take the appropriate dosage, frequency and duration of medication as prescribed by your doctor with clear indication. If you are buying chlorpheniramine from over the counter, please have a read on the instruction guideline provided together with the purchase or simply ask the pharmacist for assistance.

Precautions before using Chlorpheniramine

There are several pieces of information that you will need to inform your doctors in prior to starting consuming chlorpheniramine to make sure it is completely safe for you.

  • If you are pregnant, clear indication to prescribe the medication is required. Data and evidence reveal that chlorpheniramine is safe to be taken during the first and second trimester and possess a risk of prematurity if taken in the third trimester.
  • It is proven that there are some small traces of chlorpheniramine in breast milk which is possible to cause drowsiness in infants. Therefore, close monitoring is needed for mothers taking this medication or any other second generation antihistamine.
  • Chlorpheniramine cannot be taken together with alcohol as it can aggravate the side effects of the medications. It is also not advisable to drive after consuming chlorpheniramine as its side effects such as drowsiness can reduce your concentration during driving and induce sleepiness.
  • Do inform your doctor if you ever had an allergic reaction previously by taking chlorpheniramine or any other generations of antihistamine.
  • No adjustment of dosage is needed for patients with renal or liver impairment. However, some precautionary adjustment of dosage is often required in moderate to severe hepatitis as this medication is metabolized in the liver.

Side effects of Chlorpheniramine

Common side effects of chlorpheniramine are confusion, drowsiness, dry nose, mouth and throat. Not everyone consuming this medication will experience similar side effects and these side effects usually do not require any medical intervention or hospitalization.

For dry mouth or dry throat, simply take a sugarless candy or ice chips to relieve the symptoms. If you are experiencing drowsiness, make sure to get up slowly from sitting or lying down to prevent falling down.

Severe allergic reactions are unlikely to happen from consuming chlorpheniramine, however, do immediately get medical help if you are having any severe rashes, itchiness or difficulty in breathing as these can be signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis reaction. However, the probability is almost nil.