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Generic name: Cetirizine Hydrochloride
Why is this medication prescribed?
Cetirizine, an antihistamine, is used to relieve hay fever and seasonal allergy symptoms, including runny nose; sneezing; and red, itchy, tearing eyes. It also may be used to treat itching and hives that result from certain skin conditions.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Cetirizine comes as a tablet and syrup to take by mouth. It usually is taken once a day. It may be taken regularly or when allergy symptoms flare up. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take cetirizine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking cetirizine,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to cetirizine, hydroxyzine (Atarax, Vistaril), any other antihistamines, or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially medications for allergy, seizures, pain, or sleep; muscle relaxants; narcotics; theophylline (Theo-Dur); and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking cetirizine, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking cetirizine.
- you should know that this drug may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this drug affects you.
- remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this drug.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Cetirizine may cause an upset stomach. Take cetirizine with food or milk.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Although side effects from cetirizine are not common, they can occur. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- dry mouth, nose, and throat
- upset stomach
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- difficulty urinating
What storage conditions are needed for this medicine?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.