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Updated on September 26, 2022

Zyrtec and Alcohol Interactions

Can You Mix Zyrtec and Alcohol?

In general, you should never mix Zyrtec and alcohol. 

Zyrtec and alcohol have compounding effects on the brain. Both substances are central nervous system (CNS) depressants in moderate to high doses. This causes several severe side effects on the central nervous system and liver.

Extreme drowsiness is a common effect of mixing these substances. However, other adverse side effects can occur.

Side Effects of Mixing Zyrtec with Alcohol

The side effects of drinking alcohol with Zyrtec can be life-threatening. Here are the most common:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Impaired motor functions
  • Slurred or incomprehensible speech
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pains
  • Confusion or mania 
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired judgment 
  • Accident-prone
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blackouts (inability to remember prior events)
  • Tachycardia (Extreme rapid heartbeat) 
  • Seizures 
  • Internal bleeding

Other side effects of Zyrtec, specifically in terms of mental health, are still being studied. Alcohol, however, is known to destabilize mood, cause depression, and increase negative thoughts. 

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Risks & Dangers of Mixing Zyrtec and Alcohol

Alcohol and Zyrtec are both metabolized in the liver. Thus, excessive intake of one of these substances can decrease the effect of the other. But because they have additive effects, side effects associated with both of them are more pronounced. They can cause the following adverse effects:

Liver damage — Zyrtec can cause acute liver damage, albeit in rare occurrences. However, alcohol abuse is known to impair liver function severely. Zyrtec only adds to the strain on an individual's liver. 

Substance dependency — Mixing Zyrtec and alcohol can cause alcohol dependency. It canalso cause a psychological dependence on Zyrtec. 

Bodily harm — The combination of Zyrtec and alcohol causes dizziness and poor coordination. Because of this, the chance for a severe accident significantly increases. 

Overdose — An individual may overdose when mixing Zyrtec and alcohol. Symptoms include depressed breathing, liver failure, and extremely rapid heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia). 

How Long Should I Wait to Drink Alcohol After Taking Zyrtec?

Zyrtec stays in the blood for approximately 24 hours. Drinking during this time can cause any of the side effects previously mentioned. It's a bad idea to drink alcohol even if it feels as though Zyrtec isn't working. 

As a rule, mixing Zyrtec or other prescription drugs with alcohol can lead to health complications. Complications and side effects may be worse in older adults.

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What is Zyrtec?

Zyrtec, also known by its generic name as cetirizine, is an over-the-counter antihistamine. Zyrtec reduces allergy symptoms, hay fever, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and itching.

zyrtec bottle product

Other over-the-counter antihistamines that work similarly to Zyrtec, but are of different drug generations, include: 

Regardless of brand name, all antihistamine allergy medications work by blocking histamine receptors in the brain. 

You should not drink alcohol while taking Zyrtec. The combination can induce extreme drowsiness and other adverse effects.

Side Effects of Zyrtec

Zyrtec has several potential side effects even when taken in moderation. These side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sore throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness

Zyrtec side effects are more common the first few times it is taken. As the body adjusts, they usually decrease.

If an individual is allergic to Zyrtec, drug intake must stop immediately, as more serious effects may happen. These severe side effects include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Intense itching
  • Loss of conciousness

Is Zyrtec the Same as Zyrtec-D?

Zyrtec and Zyrtec D are different drugs with several similarities. The primary difference is Zyrtec-D contains pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine, also known as Sudafed, is a component of most nasal decongestants. It produces blood vessel constriction. It should be used with caution in patients with high blood pressure or cardiac problems. 

Both drugs are available OTC, but the amount of Zyrtec-D an individual can purchase is restricted. Healthcare providers may recommend one over the other based on individual factors. Both drugs can induce sleepiness. Always seek advice from your medical healthcare provider before purchase.

Is Zyrtec Addictive?

Zyrtec is not addictive in the traditional sense. This means it doesn't produce any cravings or dependencies. However, Zyrtec withdrawal has been linked to temporary but severe pruritus.2

Pruritus is a condition that causes extreme itchiness. Typically, this condition resolves on its own within a few days to a week. Another symptom of drug withdrawal is a change in sleeping patterns.

Cetirizine Statistics

13.8

Million

Estimated number of prescriptions of cetirizine in the U.S.

15.98

Dollars

Average total drug cost for cetirizine.

4.36

Dollars

Average out-of-pocket costs for cetirizine.

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Do I Have a Drinking Problem?

If you are struggling with giving up alcohol while taking allergy medications, it could potentially be a sign of alcohol addiction. While this isn't always the case, you may want to consider your drinking habits. For more information, read What is Considered an Alcoholic?

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Resources

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  1. Ekhart, Corine, et al. “Unbearable Pruritus After Withdrawal of (Levo)Cetirizine.PubMed Central, 2016
  2. Chung, Amy H, et al. “Pruritus after Discontinuation of Cetirizine.” Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, SAGE Publications, 5 July 2019.
  3. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; “Cetirizine.LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 16 Jan. 2017.
  4. Kane, Sean P. “Cetirizine.” Cetirizine - Drug Usage Statistics, ClinCalc DrugStats Database, 2018.

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