Benadryl and Alcohol: Is It Dangerous to Mix Them?

Both are strong. Like any other medication, it has side effects. Some common side effects of Benadryl are drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness, poor coordination, constipation, dry mouth, nose or throat, stomach ache, difficulty in urination, blurred or double vision, spasm, loss of appetite, headache or nausea.

A glass of alcoholic drink and pills on a table

Benadryl is a popular over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine drug that relieves allergic reactions of the body. Is it dangerous to mix Benadryl and alcohol?

No one can escape the many allergens in the environment. The allergens trigger an allergic reaction that may come from food, medicine, pollen, dust, molds, animal dander and many more. It is in the air you breathe, in the food you eat and can pass thru the skin. There is no treatment for allergies but symptoms, as it appears, can be managed.

In the US, allergies are considered a major cause of illnesses. When you are having allergies it simply means that your immune system sees an intruder thus, it will fight it. The antibodies released from the immune system is called immunoglobulin E (IgE). It then releases chemicals into the bloodstream like histamine as its defensive actions against an intruder. As the chemical is released, allergic reactions manifest in the body.  These reactions range from mild to severe and life-threatening affecting various body parts.

Some allergy is seasonal while others can be all year round. Thanks to a chemical engineer George Rieveschl, relief of allergies came in 1946. George Rieveschl invented Benadryl. It is a brand name of diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. Now, one of the OTC that is widely used to address the symptoms of allergies. Common allergic reactions involve itchy eyes, sneezing, tightness of the throat, breathing difficulties, hives, vomiting and passing out. Benadryl put a stop the body’s response to invaders, the allergens. To people having an allergic reaction, Benadryl is a relief. 

Alcohol is a depressant drug that is an ingredient of all alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine, vodka, and whiskey. Ethanol is a type of alcohol that is used only in those drinks. Because this is a depressant, it slows down body functions like speech, movements, reactions, and perceptions. Affecting the central nervous system, limiting rational thinking and judgment.             

Side Effects of Benadryl and Alcohol 

Both are strong. Like any other medication, it has side effects. Common side effects of Benadryl include drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness, poor coordination, constipation, dry mouth, nose or throat, stomach ache, difficulty in urination, blurred or double vision, spasm, loss of appetite, headache or nausea. 

On the other hand, consuming an alcoholic drink common side effects include incoherent speech, poor balance, and clumsiness, delayed reflexes, nausea or vomiting, stomach upset, blacking-out, redress on the face during or after its use.  

The side effects of each on its own is severe, mixed together may compromise your health and safety. So, what happens when Benadryl is mixed with alcohol? Benadryl and alcohol both affect your central nervous system (CNS), the origin of control of body movements.  

Risks of Mixing Benadryl and Alcohol

Driving or use of machinery 

Both Benadryl and alcohol may put you at risk because of the difficulty of staying focus and alert. It is already a fact that it is risky if you drink and drive, adding Benadryl will put you to further risk your safety. Drowsiness and sleepiness post dangers while doing the task.   

The Complication in Older Adults

Taking Benadryl with alcohol makes body coordination and movement difficult regardless of age, much more to older adults. Impaired motor activity, dizziness, and sedation effects of Benadryl and alcohol will risk older adults through stumbling, fall-related and may lead to a cardiac arrest. For senior citizens, it may cause death.       

Impairs learning and memory 

Benadryl blocks acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.  Acetylcholine is a small molecule with an important function in the peripheral nervous system. It is responsible for maintaining cognitive function. The blocking action temporarily impairs learning and memory. Getting drunk with alcohol intoxication also impairs cognitive processes results in poor judgment. Combining the two is too much risk. 

Interaction with other drugs  

There are certain drugs with alcohol component and will further increase the side effects. Taking such as medications together with Benadryl. List of medications to avoid with Benadryl include:

  • Sedatives
  • Antidepressants– prolonging drowsiness can be fatal  
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Medicine for stomach ulcer
  • Medicine for cough and colds
  • Medicines for seizures
  • Laxatives
  • Other antihistamines

Misuse    

Benadryl and alcohol may be used as a sleeping aid. Both can make you drowsy and sleepy. Its misuse can bring other side effects such as breathing difficulties, nausea, dizziness, and restlessness. The continued misuse can be addictive. 

Dementia

Long term use of Benadryl and other anticholinergic drugs may lead to dementia because it blocks acetylcholine. This small molecule act as a chemical messenger and inhibiting cognitive functions may lead to memory loss. On the other hand, excessive alcohol consumption long term can lead to alcoholic dementia.     

Dehydration

The two used separately can cause dehydration. Mixed together can give a severe hangover effect from dehydration. Dehydration can make you feel lethargic, weak and cause spasms.

Loss of Consciousness

Mixing the two results to a level of sedation wherein you lose consciousness. There are dangers in this is when you are in an unsafe and unfamiliar environment when you pass out. Aside from falls and accidents, there is potential female alcohol-related harm. There is a potential sexual related assault that can result from passing out due to mixing Benadryl into cocktail drinks. The sedative effect may compromise not only your health but also your safety.  

The Mixture Is More Harmful to Females

The female body has less water, ingesting alcohol may be more concentrated with less water to mix as compared to the male body. Females are more prone to the side effects of Benadryl and alcohol mix.     

Benadryl and alcohol is a dangerous mix. Both are strong enough to be lethal.  In excess of any other two drugs post danger. The danger lies in the fact that the mixture can shut down the Central Nervous System. You lose control of your mind and you lose control of your body. 

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