Diphenhydramine is used to relieve red, irritated, itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; and runny nose caused by hay fever, allergies, or the common cold. Diphenhydramine is also used to relieve cough caused by minor throat or airway irritation. Diphenhydramine is also used to prevent and treat motion sickness, and to treat insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep). Diphenhydramine is also used to control abnormal movements in people who have early stage parkinsonian syndrome (a disorder of the nervous system that causes difficulties with movement, muscle control, and balance) or who are experiencing movement problems as a side effect of a medication.
Diphenhydramine will relieve the symptoms of these conditions but will not treat the cause of the symptoms or speed recovery. Diphenhydramine should not be used to cause sleepiness in children. Diphenhydramine is in a class of medications called antihistamines. It works by blocking the action of histamine, a substance in the body that causes allergic symptoms.