Avoid Drinking Alcohol While Taking Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Dr. Kim Langdon Cull MD

This article was reviewed and approved by Dr. Kim Langdon Cull MD
Written by Livia Owen

Always avoid combining Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and alcohol because you can get dizzy and sleepy. This drug is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of histamine in the body. Histamine comes out when someone is exposed to an allergen and can produce symptoms of sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and a runny nose. In addition, hives can develop from histamine release. Diphenhydramine is also used to treat motion sickness, insomnia and to treat specific symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

 For those afflicted with seasonal allergies, moving through their personal and professional responsibilities, the regular day-to-day activities most people deal with are extra challenging. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, an estimated 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergies each year. So, it’s completely understandable that allergy sufferers pop antihistamines to relieve some of their symptoms.

  • It’s important to realize that mixing over-the-counter allergy medications, with alcohol is not necessarily safe.
  • Other anti-allergy medications, such as Zyrtec, are not as sedating as Benadryl.

While it effectively blocks the body’s response to allergens. It can cause several different side effects. First, both are central nervous system depressants. The central nervous system controls most body and mind functions, from physical coordination to cardiac function to sensory experiences, alertness, and sleep. Taken individually, both affect the central nervous system in similar ways. Thus, together the side effects of each are potentiated.

Common diphenhydramine side effects may include:

  • dizziness, drowsiness, loss of coordination
  • dry mouth, nose, or throat
  • constipation, upset stomach
  • dry eyes, blurred vision
  • day-time drowsiness or “hangover” feeling after night-time use.

Mixing alcohol and diphenhydramine can lead to some of the following side effects:

Intense drowsiness – on their own, both cause sleepiness, but mixing the two substances intensifies the side effect, making it tempting for people to misuse the combination as a sleep aid.

Poor Coordination and motor skills will be more impaired

Dehydration – consuming alcohol, a diuretic, people often have a headache the day after drinking. This drug, which can cause dry mouth, nose, and throat, worsens dehydration symptoms lead to an even more painful hangover.

Loss of consciousness – sporadic, but since people with allergies are already congested, in their nasal passages and lungs. This combination can lead to slow breathing and cause a person to faint.

Confusion and memory impairment – block certain neurotransmitters in the brain associated with learning and memory, making people somewhat foggy. Alcohol has similar side effects, and when the two are combined, the impairment will be far more noticeable.

The side effects used individually or combined will affect people differently and vary in intensity based on their makeup, body weight, and metabolism. However, women and senior citizens take a little bit longer to break down alcohol in the body. As a result, mixing these two substances sometimes has a more substantial effect than in younger to middle-aged people.

  • If it happens either intentionally or accidentally, the chances are that things will be fine if a person is in a safe environment to rest and can wait out the effects.

At no point should a person who’s drinking and taking this product attempt to drive or perform other tasks that require alertness. Watery eyes, a runny nose, a box of tissues that’s never quite close enough to be convenient, and, of course, the hazy fog that descends over the brain, making every little decision seem more complicated than algebra.

Drug interactions with this drug are moderate with the following drugs:

  • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
  • Lyrica (pregabalin)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)

There are eight disease interactions with diphenhydramine which include:

  • depression
  • anticholinergic effects-dry mouth, constipation
  • asthma/COPD
  • cardiovascular
  • renal/liver disease
  • glaucoma
  • liver disease
  • respiratory depression

So, if you have any of these problems, consult your doctor before using it and limit alcohol if you have liver disease.