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Dear Dr Miriam I [...].

Byline: Miriam Stoppard

Dear Dr Miriam I take one Nytol tablet each night. I have been taking them for 17 years, since my daughter died, because I couldn't sleep.

I have tried to do without them, but only get three to four hours sleep if I don't take one. What I would like to know is what damage am I doing to my body, if any? Dr Miriam says: I doubt you've been doing your body much harm. Nytol, along with Sominex, another over-the-counter sleeping pill, is an antihistamine and to my mind is more "physiological" then a standard prescription sleeping pill. We take antihistamines for allergies, sunburn and itchiness. They work by damping down the body's release of histamine, a very irritating hormone. Some antihistamines have a soporific effect, which is why they can be used to make you go to sleep.

I don't think that antihistamines are harmful to your health, but after 17 years your body will have just got used to them.

However, no one should be taking a sleeping tablet for 17 years without any medical supervision. The over-the-counter preparations are only to be used for a few days to tide you over, so please go and see your doctor.
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 14, 2013
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