Cetirizine treats hay fever and seasonal allergies. Symptoms treated include: sneezing; runny nose; and itchy, red, watery eyes. May cause drowsiness.
Cetirizine is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication used for the treatment of hay fever, seasonal allergies, hives and eye itching. Cetirizine belongs to a group of drugs called antihistamines. It works by blocking the action of histamine, a substance in the body that causes allergic symptoms.
This medication comes as a tablet, chewable tablet, orally disintegrating tablet, extended-release tablet, capsule, and a syrup (liquid) to take by mouth, and is usually taken once a day with or without food.
Cetirizine also comes as an ophthalmic solution (eye drop) for use in the eyes. The recommended dose is one drop in each affected eye twice daily.
Do not chew, divide, or break cetirizine extended-release tablets and capsules. Swallow extended release tablets and capsules whole.
Common side effects include drowsiness, headaches, excessive tiredness, and dry mouth. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how cetirizine affects you.
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Cetirizine Cautionary Labels
Uses of Cetirizine
Cetirizine is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication used for the treatment of hay fever, seasonal allergies, hives, and eye itching.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Cetirizine Brand Names
Cetirizine may be found in some form under the following brand names:
Cetirizine Drug Class
Cetirizine is part of the drug class:
Side Effects of Cetirizine
Common side effects of cetirizine include drowsiness, headache, fatigue, abdominal pain, and dry mouth. Common side effects of the eye drop form of cetirizine include eye redness, decreased clearness of vision and pain during administration.
This is not a complete list of side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:
- Aclidinium (Tudorza Pressair)
- Azelastine (Astelin)
- Ipratropium (Atrovent)
- Potassium Chloride
- Tiotropium (Spiriva)
- Umeclidinium (Incruse Ellipta)
- anticholinergics such as glycopyrrolate (Cuvposa, Robinul), trospium (Sanctura), oxybutynin (Anturol, Gelnique, Oxytrol, Ditropan), solifenacin (Vesicare), dicyclomine (Bentyl), propantheline (Pro-Banthine), and atropine (Atropen, Sal-Tropine)
This is not a complete list of drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Cetirizine can cause drowsiness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how cetirizine affects you.
Serious side effects have been reported with the eye drop form of cetirizine including the following:
- Contamination of eye dropper tip and eye solution. Contamination might cause bacterial infection. To prevent the infection, never touch the eyelids or surrounding areas with the dropper tip. Keep the bottle closed when not in use.
- Cetirizine eye drop should not be used while wearing contact lenses. Remove contact lenses prior to installation of cetirizine. The preservative in cetirizine, benzalkonium chloride, may be absorbed by soft contact lenses. Lenses may be reinserted after 10 minutes following administration of cetirizine.
- Cetirizine should not be used to treat contact lens-related irritation.
Do not take cetirizine if you are allergic to cetirizine, hydroxyzine, or any of its ingredients.
Cetirizine Food Interactions
Medications can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of cetirizine, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication.
Before taking cetirizine, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you:
- are allergic to cetirizine, hydroxyzine or to any of its ingredients
- have liver problems
- have kidney problems
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Cetirizine and Pregnancy
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.
Cetirizine falls into category B. There are no well-done studies that have been done in humans with cetirizine. In animal studies, pregnant animals were given this medication, and the babies did not show any medical issues related to this medication.
Cetirizine and Lactation
Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Cetirizine has been detected in human breast milk. Because of the possibility for adverse reactions in nursing infants from cetirizine, a choice should be made whether to stop nursing or to stop use of this medication. The importance of the drug to the mother should be considered.
Take cetirizine exactly as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.
This medication comes as a tablet, chewable tablet, orally disintegrating tablet, extended-release tablet, capsule, and a syrup (liquid) to take by mouth.
Cetirizine is usually taken once a day with or without food. Do not chew, divide, or break cetirizine extended-release tablets and capsules. Swallow extended release tablets and capsules whole.
Cetirizine also comes as an ophthalmic solution (eye drop) for use in the eyes. It is usually used twice daily.
If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses of cetirizine at the same time.
Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.
The dose your doctor recommends may be based on the following:
- the condition being treated
- other medical conditions you have
- other medications you are taking
- how you respond to this medication
- your weight
- your height
- your age
- your gender
The recommended dose range of cetirizine for the treatment of hay fever, allergies, or hives is 5 to 10 mg. The maximum recommended dose for cetirizine is 10 mg daily.
The recommended dose of cetirizine eye drop for the treatment of eye itching is one drop in each affected eye twice daily.
- Do not touch dropper tip to eyelids or surrounding areas, as this may contaminate the dropper tip and Zerviate solution. Keep the bottle closed when not in use.
- Do not to wear contact lenses if your eyes are red. Zerviate should not be used to treat contact lens-related irritation. Remove contact lenses prior to Zerviate use. Reinsert lenses ten minutes following Zerviate use.
If you take too much cetirizine, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.
If cetirizine is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.
- Store cetirizine at room temperature.
- Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children.