Bad medicine

So yesterday I had a very bad tension headache. After everything I usually do to get rid of them (walking, hot shower, etc.) it was still there and I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. So I thought I’d take some Tylenol PM. I hadn’t taken any in quite some time–I think it’s been a couple of years.

It was awful. The headache mostly went away, but I was completly unable to sleep and I got the jitters! I lay there for about two hours, trying not to think about it and kind of zoning out but unable to sleep. My jaw would shake if I didn’t control it. It was weird and scary, but I didn’t seem to be able to do anything about it, so I just lay there.

What the heck happened, does anyone know? And have you ever had ordinary OTC medicine backfire on you like that?

I took Tylenol PM a few years ago because of a bad headache and being unable to sleep because of it…wound up sleeping through my alarm the next day, waking up at 11 a.m., and being three hours late for work. For me it worked TOO well.

Tylenol PM is a combination of acetominophen (Tylenol) and pseudoephedrine (antihistamine). If you have a bad reaction to either - and I’m guessing it’s the antihistamine - you could get well and truly wired. Normally, pseudoephedrine makes people spacey and sleepy. That’s why it’s used in the PM medication. However, some people have the opposite reaction to a medication.

So, in the future, don’t take it. Try something else, like chamomile, valerian, or undercooked turkey (I kid!).

I happen to love Tylenol PM, but I won’t take it unless I know I can get at least 8 full hours’ sleep. I’ll take it at 10 pm, hoping to fall asleep at 11 and wake up when my alarm goes off at 7. If I don’t get the eight hours, though, I’m incredibly groggy the next day.

As for OTC reactions, a couple weeks ago I had one of those incredibly invasive root canals that take three trips to the endodontist to finish. I was told that I would be in enough “discomfort” (no, never pain) that I should take 2 Advil AND 2 Extra Strength Tylenol every eight hours. And boy, did I need them. But that’s not important right now. :slight_smile: Anyway, on day 2 or 3, I had an enormous amount of the aforementioned “discomfort”, and took the pills an hour or two early. The result was very similar to what you experienced. I felt incredibly jittery and shook rather uncontrollably, with my jaw seeming to be the epicenter of the bodyquake.

For the record, I usually don’t have any reaction to medicines, and I’m the kind of person who routinely takes 3 Advil instead of 2 for a headache or whatever. I was sticking to the prescribed dosage this time around, I think it was just the buildup of all the different OTC painkillers that sent me off into a (fabulous, but impromptu) Katharine Hepburn impression that wouldn’t end.

I think you mean diphenhydramine, not pseudoephedrine (sudafed). Sudafed is a decongestant, not an antihistimine, although it is sometimes combined with them in cold medicines. Sudafed will indeed keep you awake, if you are like most people.

The sleep agent in Tylenol PM is nothing more than Benadryl, which makes most folks sleepy. OTOH, my 23yr old gets a buzz when she takes one.

Yeah, it’s diphenhydramine(benadryl) in Tylenol PM, but it can cause the symptoms you described. It doesn’t affect my mother at all, one way or the other. As the article says, it’s more common that kids will be affected. I’m knocked out almost immediately.


Most common in children and the elderly, hm? That’s actually a little weird, since I’ve taken a little Benadryl a coupld of times in the last few weeks, and nothing untoward happened.

Oh well. I’m never touching Tylenol PM again, let me tell you.

When I was about 15, I took some generic cold medicine. I have refused to use generic medicine since then. I woke up in the middle of the night, and I thought I was covered with hundreds of spiders. Daddy long legs!! I could hear their legs brush together as they crawled all over each other and I could feel their legs tickling me as they walked around. I tried to brush them off with my hands, but they just kept climbing back on. I finally passed out, but it happened three more times that night. I have a spider phobia, and I think that was one of the worst nights of my life!!