Zetia lowers cholesterol. Zetia should be used together with lifestyle changes such as diet, weight-loss, and exercise.

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Pharmacist Christine Wicke, PharmD, BCPS overviews the uses and common side effects of Zetia
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Zetia Overview


Zetia is a prescription medication used to treat high cholesterol when diet and exercise alone are not enough. Zetia belongs to a group of drugs called cholesterol absorption inhibitors which block absorption of cholesterol from food in the digestive tract.

This medication comes in tablet form and is taken once daily, with or without food.

Common side effects of Zetia include upper airway infection, diarrhea, and joint pains.

How was your experience with Zetia?

First, a little about yourself

Tell us about yourself in a few words?

What tips would you provide a friend before taking Zetia?

What are you taking Zetia for?

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  • Other
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type Ii

How long have you been taking it?

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  • Less than a week
  • A couple weeks
  • A month or so
  • A few months
  • A year or so
  • Two years or more

How well did Zetia work for you?

Did you experience many side effects while taking this drug?

How likely would you be to recommend Zetia to a friend?

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Zetia Cautionary Labels


Uses of Zetia

Zetia is a prescription medication used with diet and exercise to treat high cholesterol. It may be given with other cholesterol-lowering medications. Zetia is also used to treat a rare genetic condition called sitosterolemia.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.


Zetia Drug Class

Zetia is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Zetia

  • In clinical studies patients reported few side effects while taking Zetia. These included diarrhea, joint pains, upper airway infection, and feeling tired.
  • Patients have experienced severe muscle problems while taking Zetia, usually when Zetia was added to a statin drug. 
  • If you experience unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness while taking Zetia, contact your doctor immediately. 
  • You need to do this promptly, because on rare occasions, these muscle problems can be serious, with muscle breakdown resulting in kidney damage.

Additionally, the following side effects have been reported in general use:

  • allergic reactions (which may require treatment right away) including swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and/or throat that may cause difficulty in breathing or swallowing, 
  • rash, and hives
  • raised red rash, sometimes with target-shaped lesions
  • joint pain
  • muscle aches
  • alterations in some laboratory blood tests
  • liver problems
  • stomach pain
  • inflammation of the pancreas
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • tingling sensation
  • depression
  • headache
  • gallstones
  • inflammation of the gallbladder

Zetia Interactions

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:

  • cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
  • gemfibrozil (Lopid)
  • fenofibrate (Tricor, Fibricor)
  • cholestyramine (Questran, WellChol, Colestid)
  • warfarin (Coumadin)

This is not a complete list of Zetia drug interactions. Ask your doctor for more information.

Zetia Precautions

  • Do not take Zetia if you are allergic to any ingredient in it. 
  • If you have active liver disease, do not take Zetia while taking cholesterol-lowering medicines called statins.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, do not take Zetia while taking a statin.
  • If you are a woman of childbearing age, you should use an effective method of birth control to prevent pregnancy while using Zetia added to statin therapy.
  • Zetia has not been studied in children under age 10.

Zetia Food Interactions

Medicines 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 Zetia there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication.

Inform MD

  • Tell your doctor about any prescription and non-prescription medicines you are taking or plan to take, including natural or herbal remedies.
  • Tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions including allergies.

Tell your doctor if you:

  • have ever had liver problems
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • experience unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness

Zetia 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.

Zetia falls into category C. In animal studies, pregnant animals were given this medication and had some babies born with problems. No well-controlled studies have been done in humans, though. Therefore, this medication may be used if the potential benefits to the mother outweigh the potential risks to the unborn child.


Zetia and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

It is not known if Zetia crosses into human milk. Because many medications can cross into human milk and because of the possibility for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants with use of this medication, a choice should be made whether to stop nursing or stop the use of this medication. Your doctor and you will decide if the benefits outweigh the risk of using Zetia.


Zetia Usage

  • Take Zetia once a day, with or without food. It may be easier to remember to take your dose if you do it at the same time every day, such as with breakfast, dinner, or at bedtime. If you also take another medicine to reduce your cholesterol, ask your doctor if you can take them at the same time.
  • If you forget to take Zetia , take it as soon as you remember. However, do not take more than one dose of Zetia a day.
  • Continue to follow a cholesterol-lowering diet while taking Zetia. 
  • Keep taking Zetia unless your doctor tells you to stop. It is important that you keep taking Zetia even if you do not feel sick.
  • See your doctor regularly to check your cholesterol level and to check for side effects. Your doctor may do blood tests to check your liver before you start taking Zetia with a statin and during treatment.

Zetia Dosage

Take Zetia exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The recommended dose of Zetia is 10 mg once daily, with or without food.

Zetia Overdose

If you take too much Zetia, call your local Poison Control Center or seek emergency medical attention right away.

Other Requirements

  • Store Zetia at room temperature in the container it came in, tightly closed.
  • Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children.