Updated on November 30, 2023
4 min read

Zyrtec and Alcohol Interactions

Can You Mix Zyrtec and Alcohol?

You should never mix Zyrtec and alcohol. Both substances are central nervous system depressants that can amplify side effects leading to extreme drowsiness.

Although Zyrtec is less likely to cause drowsiness compared to first-generation antihistamines, the interaction between these substances can still cause drowsiness. This can increase the likelihood of injury and accidents.

However, drowsiness isn't the only side effect of combining these depressants. You may also experience other adverse side effects on your mental health and liver.

Risks & Dangers of Mixing Zyrtec and Alcohol

Alcohol and Zyrtec are both metabolized in the liver. Excessive intake of one of these substances can decrease the effectiveness of the other.

Alcohol and Zyrtec have additive effects, so side effects associated with both can become more pronounced. They can cause the following adverse effects:

Alcohol & Zyrtec Drug Interactions

Mixing alcohol with Zyrtec or other drugs can also increase the risk of health complications. Substances that may interact with alcohol or Zyrtec include:5

  • Allergy or cold medicine
  • Narcotic pain relief medicine
  • Sleeping pills
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Antiseizure medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Antianxiety medications

Make sure to tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you're taking before using Zyrtec. They'll be able to provide professional medical advice or alternatives.


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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 with Zyrtec, even if it feels like Zyrtec isn't working. 

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

Side Effects of Mixing Zyrtec with Alcohol

The side effects of drinking alcohol with Zyrtec can be life-threatening. Common side effects include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Impaired motor function
  • 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

More research is required to understand the effects of Zyrtec on mental health. However, alcohol exacerbates mental health disorders, depression, and negative thought patterns.

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What is Zyrtec?

Zyrtec, also known by its generic name cetirizine, is an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine. Zyrtec is most commonly used to reduce:

  • Allergy symptoms
  • Seasonal allergies or "hay fever"
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Itching

Zyrtec binds to histamine receptors and prevents histamine from affecting those receptors, reducing allergic reaction symptoms.

zyrtec bottle product

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 you take it. As the body adjusts, side effects usually decrease.

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.

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Do I Have a Drinking Problem?

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

Cetirizine Statistics



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



Average total drug cost for cetirizine.



Average out-of-pocket costs for cetirizine.

Zyrtec Alternatives

Other OTC antihistamines that work similarly to Zyrtec, but are of different drug generations, include: 

Is Zyrtec the Same as Zyrtec-D?

The primary difference between Zyrtec and Zyrtec-D is that Zyrtec-D contains pseudoephedrine. It is a component of most nasal decongestants that produces blood vessel constriction. Use it cautiously if you have cardiac problems or high blood pressure.

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 a healthcare provider before purchasing.

Side Effects of A Zyrtec Allergy

If you're allergic to Zyrtec, stop using it immediately. It can cause a severe allergic reaction, which causes side effects like:

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

Contact a medical professional immediately if you're experiencing an allergic reaction.

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Updated on November 30, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on November 30, 2023
  1. Ekhart et al. “Unbearable Pruritus After Withdrawal of (Levo)Cetirizine.PubMed Central, 2016

  2. Chung 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, 2017.

  4. Kane, S. “Cetirizine.” Cetirizine - Drug Usage Statistics, ClinCalc DrugStats Database, 2020.

  5. "Zyrtec" Rxlist.com, 2021.

  6. Naqvi et al. "Cetirizine." Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2023.

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