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Zyrtec is an oral tablet consisting of an antihistamine called cetirizine. This medication is also know internationally as Reactine, and may be purchased in both the brand choice and generic alternative in 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg!
Zyrtec is used to help treat cold or allergy symptoms. These symptoms may include sneezing, itching, watery eyes, or a runny nose. These symptoms can be caused by the common cold, a viral infection, or by allergies, which are caused by allergens. A viral infection is caused by a virus, usually rhinoviruses, although there are many viruses out there that can cause a common cold. As for allergens, they can be anything from dust to pollen to pet dander. Allergens are substances (antigens) that produces an abnormal and vigorous immune response; allergens can be different from person to person, but regardless of what your allergens are, they will cause the immune system to attack it. This is when you will start sneezing, itching, or experiencing other symptoms of allergies.
Additionally, this medication can also be used to help with itching and swelling caused by chronic urticaria, which is a fancy name for hives. Hives can be a result of an allergic reaction, or they may be caused by foods, medications, environmental factors (such as tight clothing or emotional stress), or medical treatments or underlying medical conditions.
Zyrtec (cetirizine) is effective at treating cold and allergy symptoms (as well as hives) because of its power to reduce the effects of histamines in the body, which produce the symptoms followed by the common cold or allergies.
Take Zyrtec exactly the way it has been prescribed to you. You should be able to find your doctor’s directions on the prescription label. Do not use Zyrtec in larger or smaller amounts than recommended or for a longer duration of time.
Older adults and seniors may need to take a lower dose than the average dose. Speak with your doctor if this concerns you.
You may take this medication with or without food.
Chewable tablet: you must chew the tablet before swallowing.
Orally dissolving tablet: put the tablet in your mouth. You should feel it begin to dissolve instantly. Swallow several times as it dissolves but ensure you do not swallow the tablet; it should completely dissolve.
Store this medication at room temperature away from risks of moisture and heat.
Do not use Zyrtec (cetirizine)
You should not use this medication if you are allergic to cetirizine or hydroxyzine.
Dose adjustment or special precautions may be required
Before starting treatment, ensure you have told your doctor about all medical conditions, especially if you have difficulty urinating, kidney disease, or liver disease.
Tell your doctor if you take any type of medication that makes you sleepy. This includes medication such as other cold or allergy medicine, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures, depression, or anxiety.
It is not known whether this medication will harm an unborn baby. Speak with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication while pregnant.
It is not known if this medication will pass into breast milk or if it will harm a nursing infant. Ask a doctor before using this medication if you are breast feeding.
Zyrtec may impair your thinking, therefore, you should not participate in any hazardous activities, such as driving, until you are fully aware how this medication affects you.
Common side effects of Zyrtec (cetirizine) may include:
The above side effects should not alarm you.
Serious side effects of Zyrtec (cetirizine) may include:
If you have any of the above side effects or signs of complications, contact your doctor right away.
Please note this is not a complete list of side effects. Not everyone experiences side effects; they are not guaranteed. If you do have side effects and they become unmanageable, consult your doctor about alternate medications.
How old do you have to be to use Zyrtec safely and effectively?
To safely and effectively use this medication, you must be at least 6 years old. In some cases, those under 6 years old are able to safely and effectively use this medication, however, that is only if the child’s doctor believes this medication is needed.
What is the average dose for an adult with allergies? What about a pediatric patient?
The average dose for an adult with allergy symptoms is one 10mg tablet once a day. Not to exceed more than 10mg in a single day (24 hours). For less severe symptoms, you may only need 0.5mg. The dose is the same for children over 6 years old. Doses for children under 6 years old must be determined by a doctor.
Is there anything I should avoid while using Zyrtec?
Yes. During treatment with Zyrtec, you should avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol can increase unwanted side effects.
Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?
Yes. Some common drugs that may interact with this medication includes Benadryl, Cymbalta, gabapentin, tramadol, trazodone, and Xanax. This is not a complete list of drugs that may interact with cetirizine.
How long will this medication take to clear up my symptoms?
The peak concentration of this medication takes place about one hour after taking a tablet, however, some begin feeling relief within 20 minutes of administering the drug. The effects of this drug should last for at least 24 hours after taking one dose.
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