Chlorpheniramine maleate is a common antihistamine. It is most often used to treat symptoms associated with the common cold and other upper respiratory ailments like rhinitis and urticaria. It is a treatment for symptoms only and will not address the cause of any symptoms. Many over the counter (OTC) medications include this drug in their formulas. It has other uses as well both in human medicine and in the field of veterinary medicine.
This drug is primarily used for relieving symptoms like runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, itchy or mildly sore throat and sneezing. Common colds, allergies and hay fever are the most common ailments treated with this drug, which acts by blocking the production of histamine, a natural chemical produced by the body in response to allergens that produce allergic symptoms.
In humans, this compound also acts like many antihistamines in that it can cause drowsiness. For this reason, it is sometimes used as a sleep aid. Few products indicate this use for the drug on their packaging, as other, more effective drugs exist that are marketed specifically for that purpose.
As an antihistamine, chlorpheniramine maleate is also useful for the suppression of hives, welts and rashes associated with allergic reactions. It can also be used to treat mild allergic reactions to bee stings and insect bites and to help treat reactions to blood transfusions and vaccination reactions. It is sometimes used as a treatment for motion sickness as it can have an anti-nausea effect.
This drug is often combined with other medications in various OTC products for the treatment of cold symptoms. It may be combined with pain and fever reducers, decongestants, cough suppressants, or expectorants. Many brands of OTC cold and allergy medications contain chlorpheniramine maleate, and care must be taken to avoid an overdose when using more than one medication in combination.
Some research suggests that chlorpheniramine maleate may have anti-depressant effects. It acts in a similar manner to other serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs which are widely prescribed for depression. Limited research has been conducted in this field however, and the drug is not approved in the United States or many other countries for this use.
As with any drug, it is important to consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking chlorpheniramine maleate. It can have side effects and is dangerous for people with some medical conditions or in combination with certain other medicines. It should not be given to young children under the age of 6 and only under a doctor's supervision to children 6-14. Instructions should be followed carefully when using any medication, and no drug should be taken for any reason other than that specified on its packaging or label.