Taking Benadryl With Tramadol
Use caution when using Benadryl with tramadol.
My doctor recently prescribed me tramadol. I take Benadryl to help me sleep every now and then. Are they safe together?
Additive Side Effects
Use of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and tramadol together can cause additive side effects and therefore, caution is recommended when combining them. These potential side effects include (6):
- Decreased motor function
- Memory impairment
How Long To Wait Between Dosing
While tramadol and Benadryl generally shouldn't be taken together due to the additive side effects, in most cases they can be taken the same day, as long as they are separated by an appropriate amount of time.
- Tramadol has a duration of action of around 6 hours, with peak effects occurring about 1.5-2 hours after taking a dose by mouth (1).
- Benadryl has a duration of action around 4 to 6 hours (2). This can be prolonged in certain individuals, such as in those with liver dysfunction or in the elderly (3).
Based on how long each drug lasts, you should wait at least 6 hours after taking tramadol to take Benadryl to lessen the risk of additive effects. Similarly, you should wait at least 6 hours after taking Benadryl to take tramadol.
It is important to note that tramadol is the active ingredient in a variety of prescription products, many of them 'extended release'. These products include:
- Ultram ER
If you are taking any of the extended release tramadol products, you will need to wait longer than 6 hours to avoid additive effects. To be safe, you may want to hold off on taking Benadryl the same day.
The above recommendations stem from how long the noticeable effects of each drug lasts. It takes considerably longer than the duration of action for them to be completely metabolized and eliminated from the body. If you wish to avoid having the two drugs in your system at the same time, you have to consider other characteristics, such as half-life.
The half-life of tramadol is around 6-7 hours for the immediate release dosage forms (e.g. Ultram). As it generally takes around 5-6 half-lives to be completely eliminated from the body, this correlates to 1 to 2 days (4).
The half-life of Benadryl is shorter than tramadol, around 2 to 3 hours for most individuals (although this is prolonged in certain populations) and nearly 100% of the drug is metabolized and eliminated with 24 hours (5).
Therefore, based on the half-lives for each drug, you will need to wait 1 to 2 days in most cases to avoid having both drugs in your body at the same time.
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