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Generic Name: hydroxyzine (hye-DROX-i-zeen)
Brand Name: Examples include Atarax and Vistaril

Atarax is used for:

Treating anxiety, for sedation before and after general anesthesia, and to treat itching due to certain allergic conditions, including hives and contact dermatitis (eg, poison ivy). It also may be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Atarax is an antihistamine. It works by affecting the brain to reduce anxiety. It also has other activities, including opening breathing tubes, relieving pain or allergy symptoms, and preventing or treating nausea and vomiting caused by motion sickness.

Do NOT use Atarax if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Atarax
  • you are taking sodium oxybate (GHB)
  • you are in your first 3 months of pregnancy

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: OTC Medication Use In Pregnancy: Wise or Worrisome?

Before using Atarax:

Some medical conditions may interact with Atarax. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have asthma, glaucoma, difficulty urinating, urinary or intestinal blockage, a prostate disease, or a blood disease
  • if you drink alcoholic beverages

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Atarax. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Sodium oxybate (GHB) because side effects such as an increase in sleep duration and slowed breathing may occur

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Atarax may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Atarax:

Use Atarax as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take Atarax by mouth with or without food. If stomach upset occurs, take with food to reduce stomach irritation.
  • If you miss a dose of Atarax and you are using it regularly, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for you next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Atarax.

Important safety information:

  • Atarax may cause drowsiness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use Atarax with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or using medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using Atarax; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.
  • The effectiveness of Atarax as anxiety treatment for longer than 4 months is not known.
  • Use Atarax with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Atarax should not be used in NEWBORNS; safety and effectiveness in newborns have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Do not use Atarax if you are in your first 3 months of pregnancy. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor right away. It is not known if Atarax is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Atarax.

Possible side effects of Atarax:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Drowsiness; dry mouth.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); involuntary movements.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include unusual drowsiness and dizziness.

Proper storage of Atarax:

Store Atarax at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C). Do not freeze. Store away from heat, moisture, and light in a tightly closed container. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Atarax out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Atarax, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Atarax is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take Atarax or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about Atarax. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Atarax. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using Atarax.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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