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Updated on January 24, 2023
3 min read

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. 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

Other Zyrtec side effects, especially related to mental health, are still under research. However, alcohol 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. Excessive intake of one of these substances can decrease the effectiveness of the other.

But because alcohol and Zyrtec have additive effects, side effects associated with both are more pronounced. They can cause the following adverse effects:

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

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.

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What is Zyrtec?

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

zyrtec bottle product

Other OTC 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. 

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.

Side Effects of A Zyrtec Allergy

If you're allergic to Zyrtec, stop taking it immediately. It can cause severe side effects, including:

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

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.

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



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



Average total drug cost for cetirizine.



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 be a sign of alcohol addiction. While this isn't always the case, you may want to rethink your drinking habits. For more information, read What is Considered an Alcoholic?

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Updated on January 24, 2023
4 sources cited
Updated on January 24, 2023
  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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