Cetirizine is an antihistamine medication.

Pronunciation: se-TIR-a-zeen

What are cetirizine’s uses?

Cetirizine is used to treat the symptoms of allergic conditions, such as allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nose’s mucous membrane), or hay fever, including a runny, itchy nose and sneezing.

It is also used in the treatment of eczema (atopic dermatitis) and hives (chronic urticaria).

What dosage should you take?

The typical dose for adults for symptomatic relief is 10mg daily taken in the evening, or 5mg twice a day.

For children (two to five years), 5mg daily in a single dose or two divided doses. For older children (six to 12 years), the dosage is the same as for adults.

What special precautions should you take?

  • Take care when driving or performing tasks that require you to be alert, as cetirizine can cause side effects that may impair your reactions and thinking.
  • In the elderly, low doses should be used.
  • It is not recommended for use in children younger than two years old.
  • Avoid during breastfeeding as it is excreted into breast milk, unless your doctor says you may use it.
  • Avoid during pregnancy, and be advised to inform your doctor if you’re planning to get pregnant.
  • Cetirizine is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, thus it is advised to avoid alcohol and other sedatives.

Cetirizine should be avoided if you suffer from the following conditions:

  • Porphyria (a group of rare genetic disorders that affect mainly the skin or nervous system)
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Liver ailments
  • Glaucoma (an eye disorder that results in optic nerve damage)
  • A hydroxyzine allergy or allergy to drugs in the piperazine family
  • Sugar intolerance

Cetirizine should be used with caution if you suffer from the following conditions:

  • Kidney impairment (including age-related kidney impairment)
  • Epilepsy

What drug interactions could you experience?

To avoid adverse drug interactions, always inform your doctor or Clicks pharmacist what prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal products you are taking or planning to take.

What are cetirizine’s side effects?

Side effects could include:

  • Sedation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Increased appetite
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Skin reactions (rare)
  • Swelling in the deeper layers of the skin, also known as angio-oedema (rare)

This is not a complete list of side effects. It’s essential that you contact your doctor should you notice any severe or odd side effects.

What are the overdose symptoms?

Call a doctor or an ambulance immediately if you suspect an overdose and notice the following symptoms:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart palpitations
The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in April 2015