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Mixing Zyrtec (Cetirizine) and Alcohol: Is It Safe?

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Combining Zyrtec and alcohol can prevent the medication from working well, increases the risk of side effects and should be avoided.

Many treatment options are available to help your symptoms when you suffer from allergies. Zyrtec is popular for easing your stuffy nose until allergy season is over; however, avoiding drinking while on the medication is important. Combining the substances can increase side effects and prevent Zyrtec from working well.

What Is Zyrtec (Cetirizine)?

Zyrtec, the brand name for the generic drug cetirizine, is an over-the-counter antihistamine that treats nasal allergies and allergic rashes. The drug works by blocking histamine H1 receptors in the body, thus preventing the release of histamine, which would otherwise cause allergy symptoms.

Zyrtec Side Effects

Zyrtec is generally well-tolerated, but its side effects in adults include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth

Can You Drink With Zyrtec?

You should avoid drinking while on Zyrtec, even if you only plan on having one or two drinks. Drinking can increase your risk of the medication’s side effects and even worsen the allergy symptoms you are treating with Zyrtec.

Dangers of Combining Zyrtec and Alcohol

Zyrtec and alcohol should not be combined for several reasons. First, there is a drug interaction between Zyrtec and alcohol because they both depress the central nervous system. This can increase the chances of having side effects like:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Problems concentrating
  • Impaired thinking
  • Impaired judgment
  • Coordination problems

Further, evidence suggests that drinking can worsen nasal allergy symptoms, causing:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Respiratory symptoms like cough

This worsening of symptoms is partly because many alcoholic products like beer and wine contain high levels of histamine — the exact substance that Zyrtec blocks in your body. Drinking can therefore make Zyrtec less effective by increasing histamine levels.

Phentermine Overdose Symptoms

An overdose of a stimulant like phentermine is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone has overdosed on phentermine, you should call 911. Symptoms of a phentermine overdose include:

  • Restlessness
  • Tremor
  • Stiff muscles
  • Rapid breathing
  • Confusion
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic state
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • Death

How Long After Taking Zyrtec Can I Drink Alcohol?

You should wait until Zyrtec is out of your system before consuming alcohol. A drug’s half-life is how long it takes half of a single dose to leave your system. Zyrtec’s half-life is about 8.3 hours. Since it takes five half-lives to completely remove a drug from your system, you should avoid drinking for about two days after your last dose of Zyrtec.

That said, Zyrtec may last longer in your body, depending on your medical history. For this reason, it is best to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before drinking after you stop Zyrtec.

Get Treatment for Alcoholism

If you or a loved one struggle to avoid alcohol even though you know drinking can be harmful when mixed with Zyrtec, you may be developing alcohol addiction. Alcoholism can be hard to overcome alone, but help is available. At the Recovery Village at Baptist Health, we offer a full continuum of services to help you beat alcohol addiction for good — from medical detox to rid your system of alcohol to rehab, which helps keep you sober. Don’t wait: contact a Recovery Advocate today.

View Sources “Cetirizine Monograph.” January 23, 2023. Accessed April 7, 2023. “Drug Interaction Report: cetirizine, ethanol.” Accessed April 7, 2023.

Nihlen, Ulf; Greiff, Lennart J.; Nyberg, Per; et al. “Alcohol-induced upper airway symptoms: prevalence and co-morbidity.” Respiratory Medicine, June 2005. Accessed April 7, 2023.

Bendtsen, P.; Grønbaek, M.; Kjaer, S.K.; et al. “Alcohol consumption and the risk of self-reported perennial and seasonal allergic rhinitis in young adult women in a population-based cohort study.” Clinical and Experimental Allergy, July 2008. Accessed April 7, 2023.

Sánchez-Pérez, Sònia; Comas-Basté, Oriol; Veciana-Nogués, M. Teresa; et al. “Low-Histamine Diets: Is the Exclusion of Foods Justified by Their Histamine Content?” Nutrients, May 2021. Accessed April 7, 2023.

Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls, June 23, 2022. Accessed March 12, 2023.