Get Expert Advice for controlling your Severe Allergies

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.

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

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, 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 kidney or liver problems or you 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:

  • Perampanel or theophylline because they may increase the risk of Zyrtec's side effects

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Zyrtec 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 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 and you are taking it regularly, 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 while you are using Zyrtec.
  • Check with your doctor before you 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.
  • Zyrtec may interfere with skin allergy tests. If you are scheduled for a skin test, talk to your doctor. You may need to stop taking Zyrtec for a few days before the tests.
  • 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.
  • 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); persistent fatigue.

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.

Proper storage of Zyrtec:

Store Zyrtec between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C). 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 health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using Zyrtec.

Issue Date: September 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.003
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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