By Henry Ehrlich
I have nothing against self-medicating for minor ailments. Hangovers, for example. During my prime hangover years, Alka-Seltzer® was the over-the-counter drug of choice for overindulgence. It was represented on TV when I was a kid by the character Speedy Alka-Seltzer, and later (when I needed it) by the memorable slogan “I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing”, in which a middle-aged man in his PJs suffers for the pizza he had for dinner. This 1972 Clio winner will undoubtedly show up as the work of Don Draper if “Mad Men” lasts long enough.
I was taken aback, however, when I saw a product pop up on television yesterday called Alka-Seltzer Plus® Allergy Formula, which must be fairly new since it doesn’t appear in WebMD’s list of drugs and medications A-Z.
The antihistamine is diphenhydramine hydrochloride 25 mg—also the active ingredient in Benadryl–which has sedating effects. This should give some guidance as to its use.
First, don’t take it prophylactically before you go drinking, which college friends of mine used to do with the basic product, even if there’s a designated driver. You may end up passing out at an embarrassing time.
Second, even if you’re going out just for pizza after taking it, not to drink, you’re going to need a designated driver. Better still, stay home and have the pie delivered. With any luck, you will fall asleep before you eat the whole thing.
Third, don’t take it if you wake up with a hangover, or any of the other conditions that Alka-Seltzer is used for, such as cold symptoms, unless you are preparing to do nothing more strenuous than sitting around and read the paper because, as the company warns:
“When using this product
• may cause marked drowsiness
• avoid alcoholic drinks
• alcohol, sedatives, and tranquilizers may increase the drowsiness effect
• use caution when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery
• excitability may occur, especially in children”
Oh, and don’t use it for children under 12 at all.
To help you get through the pollen season and still enjoy the occasional night out, see your allergist.
Photo by http://chexydecimal.com/