For those afflicted with seasonal allergies, moving through their personal and professional responsibilities, the regular day-to-day activities most people deal with, is extra challenging.
An estimated 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergies each year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
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.
So, it’s completely understandable that allergy sufferers pop antihistamines to relieve some of their symptoms.
- But it’s important to realize that mixing over the counter allergy medications, like Benadryl, with alcohol is not necessarily safe.
The central nervous system controls most functions of the body and mind, from physical coordination to cardiac function to sensory experiences, alertness and sleep. Taken individually, both alcohol and Benadryl effect the central nervous system in similar ways, but consumed together the side effects of each are potentiated.
- This is why the combination of Benadryl and alcohol should always be avoided.
While diphenhydramine, the generic name for Benadryl, is effective at blocking the body’s response to allergens. It can cause a number of different side effects. Like alcohol, Benadryl is a central nervous system depressant.
Mixing alcohol and Benadryl can lead to some of the following side effects:
- Intense drowsiness – on their own, Benadryl and alcohol causes sleepiness, but mixing the two substances intensifies the side effect, making it tempting for people to misuse the combination as a sleep aid
- Dehydration – consuming alcohol, which is a diuretic, is very often people have a headache the day after drinking. They’re body is dehydrated from a lack of water intake. Benadryl, which can cause dry mouth, nose and throat, worsens dehydration symptoms when combined with alcohol, leading to an even more painful hangover
- Loss of consciousness – people with allergies are already congested, often in both their nasal passages and their lungs. Diphenhydramine and alcohol can lead to slower breathing and cause a person to faint
- Confusion and memory impairment – Benadryl blocks 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 of alcohol and Benadryl used individually or combined, will affect people in different ways and with different levels of intensity based on their individual makeup. 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 stronger effect than in younger to middle aged people.
- Mixing Benadryl and alcohol is never a good idea.
If it happens either intentionally or accidentally, 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 alcohol and taking Benadryl attempt to drive or perform other tasks that require alertness.
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