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Zyrtec and Alcohol Interaction: Can You Drink Alcohol With Zyrtec?

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 4/01/2022

Zyrtec is an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine that is used to treat allergy symptoms such as itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and hives. It works by blocking the histamines that your body makes during an allergic reaction.

Zyrtec is available in chewable or rapidly dissolving tablet forms as well as liquid medication. The most common dosage for tablets is one 10mg tablet once every 24 hours or 2 5mg tablets a day in evenly spaced time increments (this option is usually prescribed by your health care professional in cases of more severe or persistent allergies).

What are the Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Zyrtec?

Some of the most common side effects of Zyrtec include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain

More serious allergic reactions may appear as:

  • Rash
  • Itching or swelling of the face, tongue, and throat
  • Severe dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing

Zyrtec, when mixed with alcohol, is known to cause:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Impaired motor function
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Blackouts
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • Seizures
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Impaired liver function

The Difference Between (Extreme) Drowsiness, Sedation, and Blackout:

Extreme drowsiness is most commonly described as a subjective feeling of being tired, or problems staying awake. Drowsiness or being drowsy describes a state in which you are between being awake and being asleep and may result in coordination problems or lack of judgment.

Sedation can occur with or without drowsiness and is better described as a medically forced state of depression of your nervous system and consciousness. Sedation has various levels ranging from mild to deep sedation. Mild sedation describes a state in which you may feel drowsy but are semi-conscious and able to respond to stimulation around you. Deep sedation is a state in which you are experiencing much lower levels of consciousness, very low reaction times, and may even need assistance breathing.

Blackouts, which are commonly associated with alcohol-induced blackouts, are a lack of memory or loss of a period in which you are in an impaired state. The most common symptoms can be difficulty walking, talking, and standing and often include impaired judgment or vision. Unlike drowsiness and sedation, during this period you are definitively conscious but can experience different levels of memory or time loss once the symptoms have subsided.

Do Zyrtec and Alcohol Interaction Affect the Liver?

Yes, the interaction of Zyrtec and alcohol can affect the liver. While rare, there is the possibility that the interaction between these two drugs can cause acute liver damage. Zyrtec, on its own, has the chance to cause damage to the liver. Alcohol, especially in cases of abuse, is known to severely impair the liver over time. Mixing these two drugs can put an additional strain on the liver, leading to further complications.

Some of the most common signs of liver damage are:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Swelling of the legs and ankles
  • Dark urine color
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising easily

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please seek help from a medical professional.

Does Zyrtec Affect the Taste of Alcohol?

There is no evidence to suggest that Zyrtec affects the taste of alcohol; however, there is a chance that the rapidly dissolving tablets may leave a slight aftertaste in the mouth that should go away over time.

Can Mixture of Alcohol and Zyrtec Lead to Death?

While the mixture of alcohol and Zyrtec is unlikely to result in death, it is possible. The chance for side effects such as liver damage, extreme drowsiness, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, and impaired judgment are amplified with alcohol interaction and can be indicative of an overdose and require immediate medical attention.

Is Alcohol Amount important for Interaction with Zyrtec?

While alcohol should be avoided while taking Zyrtec due to the chances of serious side effects, the amount of alcohol can also affect the severity of those side effects. There is no specific amount of alcohol consumption that is deemed safe as you may become more intoxicated with lower amounts of alcohol when the two are mixed. In this case, even drinking in moderation may prove to be a problem. With this, extreme caution should be used as you may begin to feel the effects of alcohol intoxication as well as the side effects of the interaction more quickly and more severely. Additionally, when Zyrtec and alcohol are mixed in any amount it may be difficult to distinguish which drug is causing the side effects you may be experiencing, as well as the severity of those side effects.

Who Should Not Take Alcohol and Zyrtec?

While it is recommended that everyone should avoid mixing alcohol and Zyrtec, those who are more at risk include:

  • Those with a known allergy to cetirizine (Zyrtec), hydroxyzine, or levocetirizine
  • People with diabetes
    • This primarily applies to the liquid form of the medication as it is known to contain sugar.
  • Pregnant woman
    • Those who are pregnant are generally encouraged to avoid taking medications whenever possible. Additionally, alcohol should not be consumed during pregnancy due to the risk of complications such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which can cause irreversible growth and developmental damage to the fetus. Zyrtec is also known to pass into breast milk; while there are no major risks associated with this, you should speak to your doctor if you are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed.
  • History or family history of:
    • Glaucoma
    • Liver disease
      • Due to the impact that alcohol has on the liver, mixing medications – especially those that are also metabolized by the liver – can put an increased strain on your liver. Signs of liver problems are most commonly identified by the presence of jaundice which is yellowing of the skin and/or eyes.
    • Decreased kidney function.

Are All Types of Alcohol Harmful with Zyrtec?

Yes, all types of alcohol can be harmful when mixed with Zyrtec due to the risk for amplified side effects such as extreme drowsiness, sedation, or increased lack of coordination.

The recommended daily amount of alcohol is 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men. One alcoholic drink is considered to be either 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Please keep in mind that these are recommended amounts for drinking in moderation, and this may not necessarily guarantee a safe interaction between alcohol and Zyrtec for you. The interaction between alcohol and Zyrtec can cause you to become more intoxicated more quickly, with a lower amount of alcohol consumption.

How Much Zyrtec Can be Dangerous to Take with Alcohol?

Any amount of Zyrtec can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol. The interaction between Zyrtec and alcohol has several very serious potential side effects, but also poses the chance that you may become more intoxicated with lower amounts of alcohol consumption. Additionally, being that both drugs are metabolized by the liver, mixing the two puts an increased strain on your liver, posing higher risks for complications.

Does Alcohol Affect How Well Zyrtec will Work?

While alcohol does not necessarily affect how well Zyrtec will work, it can delay the amount of time in which you are experiencing the benefits of Zyrtec. The liver, when faced with a drug and alcohol, will prioritize metabolizing the alcohol, which can cause a delay in the time in which the medication is being metabolized. This delay has a chance to cause a build-up of the medication within your system and poses the risk of toxicity or overdose.

How Long After Taking Zyrtec Can I Drink Alcohol?

To decrease the chance of serious side effects, it is recommended that you wait 24 hours after your last dose of Zyrtec before consuming alcohol.

What Are Other Drugs That Are Dangerous To Use with Alcohol?

While antihistamines, such as Zyrtec, are considered to be one of the most dangerous drugs to use with alcohol, they are not the only types of medications that pose a risk. Some other drugs include:

  • Opiates
  • Antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax)
  • Stimulants (such as Adderall)
  • Hallucinogens

Please keep in mind that these are only some of the most dangerous drugs to use with alcohol and that any drug has the potential for a dangerous interaction if used incorrectly with alcohol. If you are unsure of the potential side effects of a medication and its interaction with alcohol, please contact your healthcare professional to ensure that you are fully aware of the risks associated with the interaction.