Allergies? Get expert advice on treating severe allergies and anaphylaxis.

Generic Name: cetirizine (se-TIR-i-zeen)
Brand Name: Zyrtec

Zyrtec is used for:

Preventing or treating symptoms of hay fever and other upper respiratory allergies such as stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, itching of the nose and throat, and itchy, watery eyes. It is also used for preventing or treating chronic hives. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Zyrtec is an antihistamine. It works by blocking the action of histamine and reduces the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Do NOT use Zyrtec if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Zyrtec or to hydroxyzine

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

Video: Asthma

How to prevent and treat an asthma attack.

Before using Zyrtec:

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

  • if you are pregnant, plan 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 kidney or liver problems, or are receiving dialysis

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

Theophylline because it may increase the risk of Zyrtec's side effects

How to use Zyrtec:

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

  • Take Zyrtec by mouth with or without food.
  • If you miss a dose of Zyrtec, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your 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 Zyrtec.

Important safety information:

  • Zyrtec may cause drowsiness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use Zyrtec with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using Zyrtec; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.
  • Zyrtec may cause you to become sunburned more easily. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths until you know how you react to Zyrtec. Use a sunscreen or wear protective clothing if you must be outside for more than a short time.
  • Use Zyrtec with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially drowsiness.
  • Caution is advised when using Zyrtec in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially stomach pain and trouble sleeping.
  • Zyrtec should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 6 months old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Zyrtec while you are pregnant. Zyrtec is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Zyrtec.

Possible side effects of Zyrtec:

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; stomach pain (in children); tiredness; trouble sleeping (in children).

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; unusual hoarseness); dark urine; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; mental or mood changes; persistent fatigue; seizures; severe dizziness; unusual bruising or bleeding; yellowing of eyes or skin.

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 irritability; restlessness; severe drowsiness.

Proper storage of Zyrtec:

Store Zyrtec at 77 degrees F (25 degrees C). Brief storage at temperatures between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C) is permitted. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Zyrtec out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Zyrtec, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Zyrtec 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 Zyrtec 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 Zyrtec. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Zyrtec. 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 Zyrtec.

Issue Date: April 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.2.1.001
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.

Watch this video series to learn about managing severe allergies (anaphylaxis).

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