What is cetirizine?
- Zyrtec is an antihistamine. Zyrtec blocks the actions of the naturally occurring chemical histamine in the body. Zyrtec is less likely than some other antihistamines to cause side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness.
- Zyrtec is used to treat the symptoms of allergies such as sneezing; runny nose; itching, tearing, and redness of the eyes; and hives.
- Zyrtec may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking cetirizine?
- Do not take cetirizine without first talking to your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to it or to the medication hydroxyzine (Atarax, Vistaril).
- Before taking cetirizine, tell your doctor if you have kidney or liver disease. You may need a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment.
- Zyrtec is in the FDA pregnancy category B. This means that it is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not take cetirizine without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment.
- Zyrtec passes into breast milk and may affect a nursing baby. Do not take cetirizine without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
- If you are over 65 years of age, you may be more likely to experience side effects from cetirizine. Your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of this medication.
How should I take cetirizine?
- Take cetirizine exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these directions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.
- Take the tablets with a full glass of water.
- Chew the chewable tablets thoroughly before swallowing.
- To ensure you get the correct dose, measure the liquid form of cetirizine with a dose-measuring spoon, cup, or dropper, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist where you can get one.
- Zyrtec can be taken with or without food.
- Store cetirizine at room temperature away from moisture and heat.