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HomeHealth articlescetirizineCetirizine - Uses | Dosage | Side Effects | Drug Warnings | Precautions

Cetirizine - Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Drug Warnings, and Precautions

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Cetirizine is an antihistamine drug used to treat itching and swelling caused by hives. Read below to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vedprakash Verma

Published At February 23, 2022
Reviewed AtMay 23, 2024


Cetirizine is an antihistamine drug used to treat the symptoms of allergies and colds. It is known as a non-drowsy antihistamine as it is less likely to make the individual feel drowsy than any other antihistamine. Cetirizine is available in both oral and injection forms. Cetirizine oral is used in adults and children to treat colds, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, or allergy symptoms. It comes in tablets, capsules, and liquid. Cetirizine injection treats urticaria (hives) in adults and children above six years. It is an over-the-counter drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Drug Group:

Cetirizine belongs to the group of antihistamines. There are different types of antihistamines. They are

  • First-Generation or Sedating Antihistamines:

These drugs can be used when the sleep is disturbed by itching, leading to significant drowsiness. They include:

  1. Alimemazine.

  2. Chlorphenamine.

  3. Clemastine.

  4. Promethazine.

  5. Ketotifen.

  6. Hydroxyzine.

  • Second-generation or Non-sedating Antihistamines:

These drugs can cause less drowsiness when compared to first-generation antihistamines. The second-generation antihistamines include:

  1. Cetirizine.

  2. Levocetirizine.

  3. Acrivastine.

  4. Desloratadine.

  5. Loratadine.

  6. Fexofenadine.

What Is Cetirizine Used For?

Cetirizine is used to treat the following:

  • Allergies.

  • Cold.

  • Sneezing.

  • Runny nose.

  • Watery eyes.

  • Hay fever.

  • Conjunctivitis.

  • Eczema.

  • Urticaria (hives).

  • Allergic reactions to insect bites and stings.

  • Food allergies.

How Does Cetirizine Work?

Cetirizine is an antihistamine that works particularly on peripheral histamine receptors. These histamine receptors are located outside the brain and spinal cord. Histamine is a chemical released by the mast cells in response to an allergen. Allergens are responsible for the symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as swelling of the mucous membranes, sneezing, and itching. Cetirizine binds to the histamine receptors, prevents histamine from affecting those receptors, and relieves allergy symptoms. As Cetirizine acts on the peripheral histamine receptors, it is less likely to cause drowsiness than other antihistamines.

How to Take Cetirizine?

Cetirizine comes in capsules and tablets. Adults and children aged six years and older can take Cetirizine. The individual needs to take the drug as prescribed by the doctor if not sure. It is usually taken once a day. Please do not take it more often than directed by the doctor or as directed on the package. Do not take Cetirizine to treat hives that are already bruised or blistered. Stop taking Cetirizine and contact the doctor if the hives symptoms do not improve during the first phase of treatment.

What Is the Dosage of Cetirizine?

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

What Is the Dosage of Cetirizine

What are the Interactions With Cetirizine?

Drug interactions might change depending on how the medications work or increase the risk of serious side effects. It is indicated that one should only start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine with the doctor's approval. It is essential to inform the doctor or pharmacist if the individual is taking other products that cause drowsiness, such as cough relievers or opioid pain, alcohol, drugs for sleep or anxiety, muscle relaxants, or other antihistamines. Do not apply other antihistamines to the skin, as increased side effects can occur. As cetirizine is very similar to hydroxyzine and levocetirizine, it is advisable not to use these medications while using Cetirizine. This medication may interfere with certain lab tests, such as skin allergy testing, which might possibly cause false test results.

What Happens If Dose is Missed?

The missed dose can be taken immediately when the individual remembers about it. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue the regular dose schedule. Do not double the dose to compensate for the missed dose. Seek medical consultation if taken an overdose. Taking an overdose of Cetirizine can make the individual feel restless, drowsy, and nervous.

What Are the Drug Warnings and Precautions?

1)Avoid taking this drug if the individuals are allergic to Cetirizine or other antihistamines.

2) Consult the doctor before taking this drug if the individual is pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding. Usually, Cetirizine is safe during pregnancy, but it is always better to consult a doctor before taking the medication.

3) Inform the healthcare provider if the individual has any previous illnesses like liver disease or kidney disease. The doctor weighs the risks and may recommend taking the full dose or less than the typical dose.

4) Be cautious when driving a vehicle or using machinery after taking Cetirizine. Although It is less likely to cause drowsiness than other antihistamines, some people respond differently to it.

What Are the Side Effects of Cetirizine?

Cetirizine is less likely to cause severe side effects. However, it can cause adverse effects like:

  • Drowsiness.

  • Excessive tiredness.

  • Dry mouth.

  • Stomach pain.

  • Diarrhea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Headache.

  • Nosebleed.

  • Tremor.

  • Low blood pressure.

  • Tongue discoloration.

  • Difficulty in Breathing.

Consult a healthcare provider, if the individual experiences any unexpected side effects. However, these side effects are usually not an emergency.

What Are the Drug Interactions of Cetirizine?

  • If one is taking any sedatives, consult a doctor before taking Cetirizine.

  • Taking Cetirizine with other drugs that depress the central nervous system can cause drowsiness.

  • Cetirizine may interact with Theophylline, a drug used by some people with lung problems or asthma. In some instances, when Cetirizine and Theophylline are taken together, Cetirizine stays longer in the body. Hence, it is always necessary to consult the doctor before taking Cetirizine.

  • The other drugs which interact with Cetirizine when taken together are:

    • Serious Interactions:

      • Isocarboxazid.

      • Tranylcypromine.

    • Moderate Interactions:

      • Clobazam.

      • Hyaluronidase.

      • Lomitapide.

    • Mild Interactions:

      • Dyphylline.

Can Cetirizine Be Taken During Pregnancy?

Cetirizine is usually safe when taken during pregnancy. There is no evidence of teratogenicity or any other harmful effects on pregnancy. But it is always better to take the doctor's consultation before taking this medication.

Can Cetirizine Be Taken While Breastfeeding?

Small doses of Cetirizine are acceptable while breastfeeding. Larger doses or prolonged usage of Cetirizine can cause drowsiness and other effects on the infant or decrease the milk supply.

What Are the Common Brand Names of Cetirizine?

The following are a few common brand names for Cetirizine:

  • Tablet Alvin.

  • Tablet Cetriver.

  • Tablet Okacet.

  • Tablet Cetcip.

  • Tablet Stanhist 10


Cetrizine is a second generation antihistamine that will help to reduce the natural chemical histamine in the body. It is used to treat cold or allergy symptoms such as itching, sneezing, watery eyes or runny nose. The effect of this drug usually begins within thirty minutes and will last for a day.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can Cetirizine Treat a Cold?

Cetirizine is an antihistamine used to treat cold and allergy symptoms. Cetirizine is offered both orally and intravenously. Cetirizine oral treats colds, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, or allergy symptoms in adults and children. It is available in tablet, capsule, and liquid form. In addition, adults and children over the age of six are treated for urticaria (hives) with Cetirizine injection. The US food and drug administration (FDA) has approved it as an over-the-counter medication.


Can Cetirizine Make You Drowsy?

Cetirizine is known as a non-drowsy antihistamine because, compared to other antihistamines, it is less likely to make you feel sleepy. However, some people still report feeling quite sleepy after taking it. Headaches, dry mouth, nausea, feeling faint, dizziness, and diarrhea are typical side effects. There are capsule forms of some Cetirizine brands. These might include soy oil.


When Should You Take Cetirizine?

Cetirizine can be taken anytime during the day. Since it does not sedate most people, they take it in the morning. It is best to take it in the evening if it makes you drowsy because a small percentage of people find it sedating. Cetirizine may only be required on days when you experience symptoms, such as after coming into contact with an allergen like animal hair.


Who Should Avoid Taking Cetirizine?

The tablet formulation of Cetirizine does not permit the necessary dose adjustments, so it is not advised that children under the age of 4 use Cetirizine tablets. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking this medication. Cetirizine dihydrochloride absorption is unaffected by food. Capsules are available for some brands of Cetirizine. These might have soy oil in them. If you have a peanut or soy allergy, avoid taking Cetirizine capsules.


Can I Take Cetirizine Twice a Day?

For tablets and syrups used as oral dosage forms:
- Adults: 5 to 10 mg, taken once daily.
- Children aged six and older should take 5 to 10 mg once daily.
- Children aged four to six should take 2.5 mg once daily, with a daily maximum of 5 mg or 2.5 mg twice daily.


Is It Safe to Take Cetirizine Every Day?

If you experience allergy symptoms on a daily basis, Cetirizine (Zyrtec) is safe to take every day. However, if you do not experience allergy symptoms daily, you may take it on the days when you do. The dosage of drugs in this class will vary depending on the patient. Observe your doctor's instructions or the label's instructions.


How Long Do Cetirizine Effects Last?

Some allergy medications, such as Zyrtec (Cetirizine) and Allegra (fexofenadine), last 24 hours and do not have to be taken at night. However, if you use a different antihistamine to treat allergy symptoms first thing in the morning, its effects will only last for six to eight hours.


Does Cetirizine Affect the Kidney?

Cetirizine is considered safe and does not cause any problems in the kidneys. However, if you take Cetirizine regularly and your kidney function is less than 50 %, you should reduce the dosage, take it only every other day, or stop taking it altogether. You can get advice from a doctor or a pharmacist.


Can Cetirizine Cause Weight Gain?

In addition to being among the most frequently prescribed drugs for the treatment of allergies, H1 receptor antihistamines like Cetirizine, fexofenadine, and desloratadine have also been linked to increased appetite and weight gain. In part, by influencing the brain's appetite control center, histamine makes us feel less hungry, so it stands to reason that an anti-histamine would have the opposite effect. These medications can potentially obstruct our bodies' natural "I'm full" signals, resulting in overeating.


Can Cetirizine Harm the Liver?

Cetirizine and levoCetirizine have been connected to a small number of isolated cases of acute liver injury that was clinically evident. Therefore, antihistamines should be stopped if liver damage develops, even though it usually only causes minor damage. Usually, the liver function is only slightly altered; once another antihistamine is substituted or the therapy is stopped, the liver function returns to normal.


Can I Combine Cetirizine and Paracetamol?

You can take Cetirizine with ibuprofen or paracetamol. Cetirizine belongs to the antihistamine drug class, whereas paracetamol is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Both can be taken simultaneously or in combination without any adverse effects.
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Dr. Vedprakash Verma
Dr. Vedprakash Verma

General Practitioner


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