Anyone found antihistamines trigger their IBS?

Hi, my IBS started while I was on a course of antihistamines to treat an allergic reaction to medication. They were my first suspects when it started, but after I looked up connections between antihistamines and gastric pain and couldn't find anything, I let that go and pursued other possibilities.

The other night I took two sleeping tablets (I have terrible insomnia) and the next day I had very bad IBS symptoms, as severe as when it first started. Looking it up again I discovered that Ranitidine, which I take for oesophagitis, is also an antihistamine, although a secondary one, not a primary, but I'm wondering if adding the primary one (sleeping tablets) to the secondary one (Ranitidine) has caused this flare up.

I Googled it again, but other than finding a sole person on another health forum who felt antihistamines were making his IBS worse, I could find no connection.

Has anyone had this problem, or heard of a connection between the two things? I'd be really grateful for any experiences of using antihistamines with IBS. Thanks!

27 Replies

  • No probs been on Zantac for chronic gastritis for years and also claratine for sinusitis

  • Hi Maggie - can I ask how you can be sure the Zantac ISN'T adding to your IBS? Have you had IBS symptom-free periods while you've been on it?

  • Yes!

  • Thanks! I'll bear that in mind in case I'm running up the wrong tree here!

  • Hi Chancery

    I've recently tried Phenergan as someone on this site said it helped with the sickness and sleeping. I only took a few but did notice a big increase in my IBS symptoms when I took them. They are a strong antihistamine!!! Also gave me really horrible "restless legs" so I've got rid of them. I have Barrets Oesophagus too.

    i think I have to try these things as one day something might work for my IBS. Haven't found anything so far though. I just seem to go through stages of some days better than others.

    Hope this helps. I wish you well


  • Hi AGood. Ah, good old restless legs - I know those well. I drink liquorice tea because I've been lucky enough to come down with oesophagitis at the same time as the IBS developed (at first I thought the oesophagitis was causing the gastric pain), and it gives me the worst restless legs ever. I can sometimes get away with one cup but I daren't have more than one or my legs are dancing the Watusi so badly I have to get up and walk about or I'd go mad.

    But very interesting that you've noticed a correlation between antihistamines and your IBS - might not all be in my head then!

  • Yep always have problems with antibiotics antihistamines and Ibprofen for myself and my whole family. It really damages your guy especially if you already have ibs like I do. Try to stick to natural products and if need take antivirals so far no issues with the stomach.

  • Hi Franj, nice to hear someone else has problems with them - although not great for you! I haven't been able to use Ibuprofen since I was in my late 30s. I used it for strep throat (on a doctor's recommendation, and it did work) but it gave me the oesophagitis I now suffer from. So about ten days Ibuprofen, 20 years oesophageal pain - not a great trade-off that! I haven't been able to use aspirin since I was a teenager. I sometimes wonder if I hadn't been brought up on Junior Disprin (spelling?)I might not have these problems today!

  • Same. Ibuprofen and aspirin give me an awful time.

    I too was given Junior Disprin through childhood and I have full blown Barrets Oesophagus now. Lots of similarities chancery.

  • Yeah, I reckon the aspirin family does more medical damage than is ever dreamt of. I wonder how many people are wandering about with sore or damaged guts and have never put two and two together? Antibiotics are the same. Sadly, as a child, I grew up in the era when they were used for sore throats. I was plagued with sore throats as a child (I realise now probably due to my IgA deficiency), and they used to give me this sugary-sweet pink/white liquid which was an antibiotic. I took it all winter for several winters. How horrific is that? Ah, sometimes a free NHS isn't a good thing!

  • Hi , almost every tablet is coated with Lactose, maybe this could be your problem if your body doesn't like Lactose,. I find this with most tablets , so I check everything now before I take it. Good luck and I hope you find your Trigger :)

  • Thanks, Blue - I never thought of that. I'll check the tablets!

  • Good luck Chancery, I had having nightmare finding tabs for IBS no Lactose at first, and now Poss Fibromyalgia even worse, looks like will have to have specialist Meds made for me. Ha bet docs will love that. :)

  • Yeah, Blue, I never believed I had a Lactose problem (or any milk problem) but you had to give up Lactose with the FODMAPS diet so I got Lactose-free cream & milk and I have to say I find them so much more digestible. Milk products used to always make my stomach acidic and annoy my oesophagitis, now - nothing. So maybe I do have a problem after all; I'm certainly going to check my tablets just in case.

  • Great I really hope things work out for you. And good luck. :)👍🏻

  • Hi, I was taking Ranitidine and it definitely made my IBS symptoms far worse! I asked my GP if the Ranitidine could be the problem and he was very dismissive, however when I saw my consultant he was fairly certain the ranitidine was causing the problem and took me off it straight away. My symptoms started subsiding almost instantly!

  • That is very interesting, Finelle, thanks for that. Maybe wrongly, but I tend to trust consultants more than doctors because they specialise and see the same condition/s over and over, subsequently they learn more about them. Doctors have a kind of scattergun broad knowledge which is a little of everything and not enough of anything.

    Anyway, today was my last Ranitidine tablet so I'm going to go cold turkey, without any GORD meds, and see if having full stomach acid might help the IBS. If the antihistamines have been contributing, I'll hopefully see an improvement!

  • I've never had a problem with any medication so far interacting and causing my IBS to flare up. Having read the replies below I am pleased to say that I grew up when you 'just got on with it' i.e. there weren't many antibiotics handed out when I was younger so I don't take a lot of medication (apart from Buscupan) but do take natural remedies i.e. Evening Primrose Oil. I hope you get better.

  • Lucky you, CrazyF. My body seems to be supersensitive to medications and I'm always getting worse after treatment than I was before I started. I developed full-blown oesophagitis from having H.Pylori treatment, which in turn had been started by the Ibuprofen for strep throat that I mentioned above. I also have trigeminal neuralgia and had to take Carbamazepine for that (an anticonvulsant) - that's done terrible damage. I got an allergic rash from it which has left me covered in scars, plus I now have the shakes and slightly dodgy balance, which has never got better (the drug causes both these things as side effects). I think it may also have contributed to this current IBS I have. Ah, medications are almost as dangerous as the diseases they are treating!

  • Oh my goodness, I really feel for you. Problem is I really don't think the medical profession really understand sometimes what medication can do to a person and should not just 'dish it out'. I am a great believer in natural remedies if they work - they don't work for all as I found out as I took St John's Wort many years ago and didn't realise that they can make you photosensitive. Unfortunately I burnt my retina using that remedy but luckily enough I didn't go blind, I just started having to wear glasses which is nothing.

    I agree with you totally re medications and as I have said above the medical profession don't always understand.

    I really wish you well and hope that there is something out there that is going to make you better.

  • Thanks - I appreciate that! Just as an aside, I recently bought Wormwood tea as an impulse purchase in a health shop. Aside from the fact that the bitterness in it makes it virtually undrinkable, that stuff makes you feel REALLY weird, after just one cup. It's recognised to be dangerous, but there it is, being sold as an innocuous herbal tea. That said, it made me feel curiously 'tonic' each time I drank it, so I think a lot of these things are the classic adage of 'the poison is in the dose'.

  • Honestly you would think that going into a 'proper' health food shop that it would be okay - just goes to show it's not! Unless it's something that I recognise I now check on the internet to see if there are any side effects, what something can do to you ..... it's amazing to see what some people are selling as natural healthy remedies.

    Best of luck


  • Oh, there's no doubt that danger lurks in 'innocent; herbal medicines. I think people forget that a lot of actual medicines come from plants. Just from my own personal experience, liquorice tea gives me terrible twitchy legs, caffeine makes me feel psychotic (I don't drink it usually), black cohosh gave me dodgy liver function tests and nettle tea gave me gastritis (it's got the same substance as aspirin in it). And we won't even go into poisonous mushrooms and green potatoes!

  • Yeah, Pandora, 'natural' doesn't always mean safe! After all, most illegal drugs come from beautiful poppies...

  • I think at the end of the day it's best to stick to what you know and what is normal i.e. normal white potatoes, not green. I am very careful now in what I buy.

    Also, who would have thought that rice could give someone food poisoning - that's one I learnt about a few years ago now.

  • Yeah, I got that once in my early twenties - rice from a Chinese restaurant that used to keep it sitting. I also got a mouse dropping in my rice from the same restaurant. I really should have reported them but we didn't have the same Health & Safety then!

  • Oh my goodness, a mouse dropping - that's awful. Agree that Health & Safety is different now to what it used be.

You may also like...