Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ann Emerg Med. 1990 Jan;19(1):12-5.

Comparison of cimetidine and diphenhydramine in the treatment of acute urticaria.

Author information

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Darnall Army Community Hospital, Fort Hood, Texas 76544.


Recent case reports have suggested that H2-antihistamines used alone may be effective in the treatment of acute urticaria, a common complaint of patients presenting to the emergency department. This contradicts accepted doctrine on the treatment of acute urticaria. Based on theories of H1- and H2-receptor interaction at the cellular level, it has been stated that H2-blockade before H1-blockade may exacerbate symptoms. The purpose of our study was to compare diphenhydramine, an H1-blocker, with cimetidine, an H2-blocker, in a randomized, prospective, double-blind clinical trial. Ninety-three patients presenting to the ED with clinical evidence of acute urticaria were treated with either 50 mg diphenhydramine IM or 300 mg cimetidine IM. Patients' signs and symptoms were quantitated on a numeric scale before receiving medications and 30 minutes after treatment. Parameters measured included degree of itching, intensity and extent of wheals, degree of sedation, and perception of overall improvement. Each medication provided significant relief of itching and wheal intensity (P less than .0001). Sedation was caused by both diphenhydramine (P less than .0001) and cimetidine (P less than .0006). However, the degree of sedation caused by diphenhydramine was significantly greater than that caused by cimetidine (P = .0001). The perception of overall improvement was greater with cimetidine, with 87% of patients reporting improvement, whereas 76% of diphenhydramine-treated patients reported improvement. Our results indicate that cimetidine is efficacious as the initial treatment of acute urticaria and has less tendency toward sedation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center