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- What is cetirizine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for cetirizine?
- Is cetirizine available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for cetirizine?
- What are the side effects of cetirizine?
- What is the dosage for cetirizine?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with cetirizine?
- Is cetirizine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about cetirizine?
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 are the side effects of cetirizine?
Side effects that have been reported with cetirizine include:
- sleepiness (occurs in 14% of patients),
- dry mouth,
- jitteriness, and
- sore throat.
Other important but rare side effects include:
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What is the dosage for cetirizine?
The recommended dose is 5 to 10 mg daily depending on the severity of symptoms.
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
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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.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Picture of Fixed Drug Eruption
A large red-violet plaque on the arm of a child. See a picture of Fixed Drug Eruption and learn more about the health topic....
Picture of Urticaria
This is a close-up view of wheals with white-to-light-pink color centrally and peripheral erythema. See a picture of Urticaria...
Related Disease Conditions
Hives (Urticaria & Angioedema)
Hives, also called urticaria, is a raised, itchy area of skin that is usually a sign of an allergic reaction. The allergy may be...
Chronic Rhinitis and Post-Nasal Drip
Chronic rhinitis and post-nasal drip symptoms include: An itchy, runny nose Sneezing Itchy ears, eyes, and...
19 Tips on How to Stop a Cough
Coughing is a reflex that helps a person clear their airways of irritants. There are many causes of an excessive or severe...
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. ...
Eye allergy (or allergic eye disease) are typically associated with hay fever and atopic dermatitis. Medications and cosmetics...
Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis)
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an irritation of the nose caused by pollen and is associated with the following allergic...
Indoor allergens are substances that can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Common sources of indoor allergens include...
Are Hives (Urticaria) Contagious?
Hives are not contagious are triggered by an allergic response to a substance. Symptoms and signs of hives include a raised,...
Allergy Treatment Begins At Home
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The allergic cascade refers to allergic reactions that happen in the body in response to allergens. A variety of immune cells and...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- OTC Cold and Cough Medications
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- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
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- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
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Medications & Supplements
- Antihistamines (Oral)
- Drugs: What You Should Know About Your Drugs
- Drug Interactions
- Claritin (loratadine) vs. Zyrtec (cetirizine)
- loratadine, Claritin, Claritin RediTabs, Alavert, Claritin Hives Relief, Children's Claritin
- fexofenadine, Allegra, Allegra Allergy, Allegra Hives, Children's Allegra, Mucinex Allergy
- loratadine and pseudoephedrine (Alavert Allergy & Sinus, Claritin-D, Claritin-D 24 hour)
- fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine, Allegra-D
- azelastine hydrochloride and fluticasone propionate (Dymista)
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Top cetirizine Related ArticlesComplete List
Allergic CascadeThe allergic cascade refers to allergic reactions that happen in the body in response to allergens. A variety of immune cells and chemical messengers participate in the allergic cascade. Symptoms of the allergic cascade range from mild swelling and itching to full-blown anaphylactic shock. Allergen avoidance and medications are used to prevent or treat allergies.
AllergyAn allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. When these allergens come in contact with the body, it causes the immune system to develop an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to it. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. The parts of the body that are prone to react to allergies include the eyes, nose, lungs, skin, and stomach. Common allergic disorders include hay fever, asthma, allergic eyes, allergic eczema, hives, and allergic shock.
Allergy Treatment Begins At HomeAvoiding allergy triggers at home is one of the best ways to prevent allergy symptoms. Controlling temperature, humidity, and ventilation are a few ways to allergy-proof the home. Cleaning, vacuuming, and using HEPA air filters also helps control allergies.
antihistamines-oralOral antihistamines are medications used to treat symptoms of congestion, runny nose, the common cold, sneezing, itchy throat, skin rashes, hives, itching, and watery or itchy eyes. Some antihistamines also are used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and motion sickness. Side effects, drug interactions, dosing, storage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this class of medication.
Are Hives (Urticaria) ContagiousHives are not contagious are triggered by an allergic response to a substance. Symptoms and signs of hives include a raised, itchy red rash on the skin. An individual should seek medical care for hives if he or she develops dysphagia, wheezing, shortness of breath, or throat tightening.
Chronic rhinitis and post-nasal drip symptoms include:
- An itchy, runny nose
- Itchy ears, eyes, and throat
Seasonal allergic rhinitis (also called hay fever) usually is caused by pollen in the air. Perennial allergic rhinitis is a type of chronic rhinitis and is a year-round problem, often caused by indoor allergens, such as dust, animal dander, and pollens that may exist at the time. Treatment of chronic rhinitis and post nasal drip are dependent upon the type of rhinitis condition.
Claritin loratadine vs Zyrtec cetirizineClaritin (loratadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine) are both second-generation antihistamines. Antihistamies are anti-allergy drugs, and loratadine and cetirizine both are used against hay fever, pollen-induced asthma, and hives. Learn about the side effects, dosage, and pregnancy safety information for Claritin and Zyrtec.
Drug InteractionsDrug interactions occur frequently. Get facts about the types of drug interactions, what substances or other things that may interact with drugs such as OTC drug and prescription drugs, vitamins, food(s) (grapefruit), and laboratory tests. Find out how to protect yourself from potential drug interactions.
Drugs: What You Should Know About Your DrugsImportant information about your drugs should be reviewed prior to taking any prescription drug. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precauctions, dosage, what the drug is used for, what to do if you miss a dose, how the drug is to be stored, and generic vs. brand names.
Eye AllergyEye allergy (or allergic eye disease) are typically associated with hay fever and atopic dermatitis. Medications and cosmetics may cause eye allergies. Allergic eye conditions include allergic conjunctivitis, conjunctivitis with atopic dermatitis, vernal keratoconjunctivitis, and giant papillary conjunctivitis. Dry eye, tear-duct obstruction, and conjunctivitis due to infection are frequently confused with eye allergies. Eye allergies may be treated with topical antihistamines, decongestants, topical mast-cell stabilizers, topical anti-inflammatory drugs, systemic medications, and allergy shots.
Hay FeverHay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an irritation of the nose caused by pollen and is associated with the following allergic symptoms: nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, eye and nose itching, and tearing eyes. Avoidance of known allergens is the recommended treatment, but if this is not possible, antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays may help alleviate symptoms.
HivesHives, also called urticaria, is a raised, itchy area of skin that is usually a sign of an allergic reaction. The allergy may be to food or medications, but usually the cause of the allergy (the allergen) is unknown.
How to Stop Coughing
Coughing is a reflex that helps a person clear their airways of irritants. There are many causes of an excessive or severe cough including:
- Irritants like
- cigarette and secondhand smoke
- air fresheners
- Medications like beta blockers and ACE inhibitors
- Medical conditions like
- the common cold
- lung cancer
- heart disease
Natural and home remedies that help cure and soothe a cough are:
Natural and home remedies to help cure and soothe a cough are:
- Stay hydrated
- Gargle saltwater
- Use cough drops or lozenges
- Use herbs and supplements like ginger, mint, licorice, and slippery elm
- Don't smoke
Over-the-counter products (OTC)to cure and soothe a cough include
- cough suppressants and expectorants, and
- anti-reflux drugs.
Prescription drugs that help cure a cough include
- narcotic medications,
- inhaled steroids, and
- anti-reflux drugs like proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, for example,
- omeprazole (Prilosec),
- rabeprazole (Aciphex), and
- pantoprazole (Protonix).
- Irritants like
Indoor AllergensIndoor allergens are substances that can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Common sources of indoor allergens include dust mites, cockroaches, molds, pets, and plants. Avoiding indoor allergens is one way to reduce allergy and asthma symptoms.
loratadineLoratadine (Claritin, Claritin RediTabs, Alavert, Claritin Hives Relief, Children's Claritin, and others) is drug prescribed for the treatment of the symptoms of non-nasal and nasal seasonal allergic rhinitis and hives (urticaria or allergic skin rash). Drug interactions, dosing, and side effects are discussed in the information.
Urticaria PictureThis is a close-up view of wheals with white-to-light-pink color centrally and peripheral erythema. See a picture of Urticaria and learn more about the health topic.