A blister pack of medication that has only one pill left. The background is a spooky night sky with a hazy moon.

Addiction to Allergy Medication

Addiction to allergy medication is a serious problem. There are many different types of allergy medication. Some allergy medications are drowsy and some are non-drowsy.

Allergy medication main ingredients

Cetirizine is the main ingredient in Zyrtec.1 Loratadine is the main ingredient in Claritin.2 Both Cetirizine & Loratadine are non-sedating antihistamines. Diphenhydramine is the main ingredient in allergy medication such as Benedryl.3

Allergy medications with diphenhydramine

Diphenhydramine products are used to treat allergies and severe allergic reactions. People use this medication when experiencing seasonal allergies or other allergies such as a fish or nut allergy. I have used it many times when having a food allergy reaction, in many cases I would not have to go to the hospital, but in some cases, it gave me enough time to get to a hospital. It should not be the only medication used when having a severe allergic reaction, always have your EpiPen as a secondary method of treatment and go to the hospital.

Physical effects of allergy addiction

Listed below are the physical effects of diphenhydramine addiction:4
• Excessive drowsiness
• Constipation
• Blurred vision
• Dizziness
• Tightness in the chest (known as angina)
• Dry mouth
• Increased heart rate
• Inability to urinate
• Nausea
• Jitters
• Overall sense of physical weakness
• Loss of appetite
• Organ damage to the kidneys and liver
• Poor coordination

Psychological effects of allergy addiction

Listed below are the psychological effects of diphenhydramine addiction:4
• Short-term memory loss
• Problems concentration
• Poor focus
• Mood swings
• Impatience
• Confusion
• Nightmares
• Depression

Why did I take allergy medication?

Since 2016, I have been suffering from red skin syndrome; my body and skin always felt hot. I was unsure of what was causing it for a few years. I would take non-drowsy allergy medication during the day such as Zyrtec. I was having trouble sleeping because I felt hot, even with just sheets in the winter I felt hot. I would take drowsy allergy medication like Phenergan or Benedryl to help me sleep. I would take two to three tablets before bed. This was a regular occurrence and I felt dependent on allergy medication to help me sleep.

How did allergy medications affect my life?

I was always tired when I woke up in the morning. I did not want to get out of bed. I would sleep through alarms. I would still wake up itching and tearing at my skin. I felt drowsy and really unfocused throughout the day. I lost confidence and felt depressed. I was not my normal self. I stopped going to the gym because I felt too tired. I felt uneasy about almost everything and worried about the little things. I would drink way too much coffee throughout the day to try to stay awake.

I stopped taking drowsy allergy medications

I had a short trial of topical steroid withdrawal (12 days) in February 2020, and I wound up in the hospital getting special care from a team of dermatologists. It was after that I stopped taking the drowsy allergy medication as a sleep aid. Now I have been getting a better night's sleep and feeling more energetic throughout the day. I am back to regular training at the gym. I am feeling more positive about myself.

What do I do now?

I now only take Zyrtec daily as prescribed by my dermatologist. I will only take Benedryl during an emergency with a nut or fish food allergy. If you find that you are taking drowsy allergy medication on a regular basis as a sleep aid consult your doctor. This is just from my experience and everyone is different, so it is best to seek professional help from a doctor.

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