cetirizine, Zyrtec, Zyrtec Allergy, Zyrtec Hives

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

View 10 Common Allergy Triggers

What is cetirizine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Cetirizine is a non-sedating antihistamine that works by blocking histamine (H-1) receptors on cells. It is similar to the other second generation antihistamines loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra) and azelastine (Astelin). Histamine is a chemical that is responsible for many of the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions, for example, swelling of the lining of the nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. Histamine is released from histamine-storing cells (mast cells) and then attaches to other cells that have receptors for histamine. The attachment of the histamine to the receptors causes the cells to be "activated," releasing other chemicals that produce the effects that we associate with allergy, for example, sneezing. Certirizine blocks one type of receptor for histamine (the H1 receptor) and thus prevents activation of H1 receptor-containing cells by histamine. Unlike the first generation antihistamines, cetirizine and other second-generation antihistamines do not readily enter the brain from the blood, and, therefore, they cause less drowsiness. Cetirizine may cause more drowsiness than other second generation antihistamines. The FDA approved cetirizine in September 1996.

What brand names are available for cetirizine?

Zyrtec, Zyrtec Allergy, Zyrtec Hives Relief

Is cetirizine available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for cetirizine?

Yes, OTC (yes)

What are the side effects of cetirizine?

Side effects that have been reported with cetirizine include:

Other important but rare side effects include:

Quick GuideBad Bugs: Identify Bug Bites From Mosquitos, Spiders and More

Bad Bugs: Identify Bug Bites From Mosquitos, Spiders and More

What is the dosage for cetirizine?

The recommended dose is 5 to 10 mg daily depending on the severity of symptoms.

Which drugs or supplements interact with cetirizine?

Theophylline (Theo-Dur, Respbid, Slo-Bid, Theo-24, Theolair, Uniphyl, Slo-Phyllin)reduces the breakdown of cetirizine by 16% and can increase blood levels of cetirizine. Drugs that cause drowsiness may add to drowsiness resulting from cetirizine.

Is cetirizine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

Cetirizine has not been adequately evaluated in pregnant women. Available evidence suggests that risk to the developing fetus is low.

Cetirizine is excreted in human breast milk.

What else should I know about cetirizine?

What preparations of cetirizine are available?

Tablets: 5 and 10 mg. Tablets (Chewable or orally disintegrating): 10 mg. Syrup: 5 mg/5 ml.

How should I keep cetirizine stored?

Cetirizine should be stored in a dry place at 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

Quick GuideBad Bugs: Identify Bug Bites From Mosquitos, Spiders and More

Bad Bugs: Identify Bug Bites From Mosquitos, Spiders and More

Summary

Cetirizine (Zyrtec, Zyrtec Allergy, Zyrtec Hives) is a drug prescribed to treat seasonal or perennial allergies and hives. Side effects, drug interactions, dosing, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.

Treatment & Diagnosis

Medications & Supplements

Prevention & Wellness

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Allergy and Asthma Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

See more info: cetirizine on RxList
Reviewed on 9/10/2015
References
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors