This isn't bad, is it? (taking 3 otc sinus medications)

OK, I’m almost always stuffed up but a week or so ago allergies hit and my nose was constantly running. I bought Claritin and Zyrtec because on their own they don’t do jack for me, and I figured together they may be effective. Claritin’s active ingredient is Loratadine and Zyrtec’s is Cetirizine, so I feel safe because they’re different and so I won’t overdose on one or the other. I only take one of each per day.

Well, they weren’t working, so I saw that there’s a Benadryl-D Allergy Plus Sinus. After getting this I’m not having to blow my nose every five seconds. Now the active ingredients in this is Diphenydramine and Phenylephrine, different from the other two. Now, I’m not sure if it’s just the Benadryl itself or the combination, so in the morning I take all three.

Now seeing how they’re all different active ingredients, and how they’re all OTC, I don’t see a problem, but when I mentioned it to my wife and mother they gave me WTF looks and were like, “You take three at once?”

So, I don’t feel any adverse effects but is it dangerous? I don’t have any prescription medicine, and if I take any other pills it’s either Aleve and/or Sudafed PE Tripple Action (Sinus Headache, Sinus Pressure & Congestion, Chest Congestion)

Years ago I had the flu and, since I was going to work, I took Sudafed to clear my sinuses and something for the nausea I had. When I got to work I was feeling strange, a little light headed and vague. I took my pulse and it was so fast that I couldn’t accurately count it. I went up to the medical center on the corner. The doctor gave me an ECG and, although my waveforms were normal, because my pulse was about 180, they called an ambulance and I was taken to hospital. In hospital they dosed me up with various drugs and that night told me that, if my pulse wasn’t back to normal in the morning, they would sedate me and defibrillate my heart.

I woke up fine and was sent home. I asked the doctor what the hell had caused it and he said a reaction to the psuedoephedrine and the other drug I had taken. I have never taken them since, I use nasal sprays instead, and have never had another incident.

I live in Oregon where psuedoephedrine is only available by prescription.

I’m not trying to be a panic merchant, just saying you never know what 2 different things may do in combination. I had taken both many times before.

You can check out drug interactions here and diphenhydramine has lots. But none of your things are mentioned.

OK, that’s what I thought. Thanks.

I like this site. It actually ranks my meds by the number of possible interactions, and emails me if a new interaction pops up through medical reporting. It also has the ability for users to post experiences with the different meds. Of course this is all after my doctor and pharmacist have discussed the meds with me =)

Why not ask the pharmacist?

Or mention it, next time you’re at the doctor’s?

Perhaps there is a ‘phone a nurse’ benefit with your health insurance, call them!

Of course, I suspect it will negatively impact their opinion of your general intelligence, but it sounds like it would be educational for you.

Right now you’re simultaneously taking 3 different antihistamines, plus a rather ineffective ‘decongestant’ in phenylephrine.

It’s not generally recommended to take more than one type of antihistamine at a time.

There’s not much point in taking three different antihistamines at the same time. If one of them is working, then there’s no additional benefit to taking another kind, and you’ll be adding up side effects (though they’ll be relatively mild). In general, loratadine and ceterizine are both in the same general class of drugs – both are moderately effective with few side effects, though was with everything this will vary. I find that ceterizine works better for me. Diphenhydramine, in my experience, is much more effective, but it also causes marked drowsiness so I won’t use it unless my allergies are really bad. It’s an older drug, whereas the newer antihistamines were designed to have fewer side effects and most of the efficacy.

I don’t mix medications, ever. Very bad idea.

FWIW the doctor’s best guess as to why my father has a burst brain aneurysm (and subsequent cerebral hemorrhage and massive brain death) at age 42 was his constant use (and misuse in the way you describe) of antihistamines and decongestants to manage his allergies. All of these medications come with risks and side-effects with proper usage, and the risks are usually increased quite a bit when you do not use them as recommended.

This has been said here before, but it’s worth repeating: the greatest danger in overlapping OTC meds is acetaminophen (tylenol). So many OTC drugs contain acetaminophen and they aren’t always that clear about it, and, to my understanding, the distance between “effective” dose “severe danger” dose is closer with acetaminophen than with, say, ibuprofin.

I can’t help but wonder if only one of those three antihistamines is what’s actually working, or if it’s just the decongestant that’s helping you, but as long as you take them all together you’ll never know.

If the possibility of side effects doesn’t stir you to cut down on the number of meds, and our own QtM’s statement doesn’t, do consider that if you continue to consume medications that aren’t working you’re essentially pissing your money away.

Try cutting out the first two you were taking that apparently had so little effect and see if just choice #3 works for you. Just a suggestion - of course, I am not a doctor, and what you actually do is entirely up to you.l

Cetirizine and Loratadine are both 2nd generation antihistamines. They are both very similar to each other, and both are about equally effective. Though in an individual one might be more effective then the other, in the population they are about the same.

It is almost never a good idea to take two medications in the same family at the same time. It would probably be safer if you discontinued one of these two antihistamines, which one would be up to you though.

According to my pharmacist it’s okay to take psuedoephedrine with Cetirizine or Loratadine since the D versions of both contain psuedoephedrine, but you shouldn’t be taking Cetirizine and Loratadine together; or the D versions and psuedoephedrine too obviously. I’d imagine you could safely take phenylephrine with one of the two as well, but I’m surprised it works for you.

OK, since I noticed improvement when I got the Bendadryl-D, I just take that today and see how it goes. I’m guessing it is the nasal decongestant that’s mostly doing the trick, in which case it won’t matter if I stop taking the other allergy medications.