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What Is Pheniramine Maleate?

By Maggie J. Hall
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pheniramine maleate is an antihistamine used for alleviation of allergy symptoms. Manufacturers frequently list the over-the-counter medication as pheniramine maleate or a derivative. Drug industries also often combine the formulation with other medications for relief of other symptoms. Consumers can generally find the ingredient in an oral solution or tablet form. Certain ophthalmic solutions also contain pheniramine maleate, which provides relief from allergy symptoms associated with the eyes.

Allergic reactions are autoimmune responses to certain antigens. When allergens enter the bloodstream, the body releases histamine, which binds with and activates receptor sites, located throughout the body, producing physical symptoms. The pharmacological action of pheniramine maleate involves blocking the receptor sites for the histamine H1, found in the heart, central nervous system, smooth muscle, and vascular endothelium cells. Blocking the receptor sites reduces or inhibits the symptoms.

The antihistamine is frequently used for seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, or environmental allergies, such as animal dander. By blocking histamine receptor sites, pheniramine maleate can reduce or eliminate itching, watery eyes, runny noses, and skin irritations. Allergy related skin irritations might include the itching, redness, and swelling associated with eczema or uticaria, commonly referred to as hives.

The medication may produce a sedative effect when binding to sites in the central nervous system. It also may produce an anticholinergic effect by dilating or relaxing smooth muscle. These side effects sometimes allow pheniramine maleate to be used as treatment for motion sickness or the inner ear condition known as Meniere’s disease.

Side effects often associated with pheniramine maleate include drowsiness and a lack of coordination and concentration. Conversely, some people experience irritability or nervousness. Dizziness, ringing in the ears, and urine retention are also possible adverse effects, and possible gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea and vomiting. The antihistamine is not recommended for individuals suffering from glaucoma, heart disease, or an enlarged prostate. Physicians also do not generally recommend this medication for persons experiencing breathing difficulties related to asthma or bronchitis.

Products might list pheniramine maleate as an ingredient or derivative formulations called brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine, or dexchlorpheniramine. The antihistamine is frequently combined with the analgesic, acetaminophen, the cough suppressant, dextromethorphan, or the decongestant, phenylephrine. Manufacturers frequently combine the drug with naphazoline hydrochloride as an ophthalmic preparation.

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