Cetirizine - oral
Cetirizine - oral
Cetirizine is an antihistamine used to relieve allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, itching eyes/nose, sneezing, hives, and itching. It works by blocking a certain natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction.
Cetirizine does not prevent hives or prevent/treat a serious allergic reaction (such as anaphylaxis). Therefore, if your doctor has prescribed epinephrine to treat allergic reactions, always carry your epinephrine injector with you. Do not use cetirizine in place of your epinephrine.
If you are taking the over-the-counter product to self-treat, read all directions on the product package before taking this medication. If you have any questions, consult your pharmacist. If your doctor has prescribed this medication, take it as directed, usually once daily.
If you are using the chewable tablets, chew each tablet well and swallow. If you are using the rapidly-dissolving tablet, allow the tablet to dissolve on the tongue and then swallow, with or without water. If you are using the liquid form of this medication, measure the dose carefully using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.
The dosage is based on your age, medical condition, and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often than directed.
Tell your doctor if your allergy symptoms do not improve, if your hives do not improve after 3 days of treatment, or if your hives last more than 6 weeks. Get medical help right away if your condition worsens or if you think you have a serious medical problem (such as a very serious allergic reaction/anaphylaxis).
Drowsiness, tiredness, and dry mouth may occur. Stomach pain may also occur, especially in children. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
If your doctor has prescribed this medication, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:
In the US -
Before taking cetirizine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to hydroxyzine; or to levocetirizine; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:
If you are using this medication to treat hives, tell your doctor right away if you have any of these other symptoms because they may be signs of a more serious condition:
This drug may make you drowsy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Liquid products may contain sugar. Caution is advised if you have diabetes. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using this product safely.
This medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products that cause drowsiness such as opioid pain or cough relievers (such as codeine, hydrocodone), alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, lorazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants (such as carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine), or other antihistamines (such as chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine).
Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.
Do not use with any other antihistamines applied to the skin (such as diphenhydramine cream, ointment, spray) because increased side effects may occur.
Cetirizine is very similar to hydroxyzine and levocetirizine. Do not use these medications while using cetirizine.
This medication may interfere with certain laboratory tests (including allergy skin testing), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: severe drowsiness. In children, mental/mood changes (such as restlessness, irritability) may occur before drowsiness.
Keep all regular medical and laboratory appointments.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Different brands of this medication may have different storage needs. Check the product package for instructions on how to store your brand, or ask your pharmacist. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Information last revised October 2018.
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