There are several substances that can cause allergies; common among them are pet-dander, ragweed, dust-mites, pollen grains, etc. Upon encountering these triggers, your body makes a chemical known as histamine. Histamines are the reason why your eyes and nose run when exposed to foreign substances. These are also play a role in making your nose stuffy, causing itchiness around your mouth, development of hives or rashes on your skin. Antihistamines are drugs that help prevent symptoms associated with allergies by inhibiting or reducing histamines. Antihistamines are sold as both over the counter (OTC) drugs as well as prescription medications. Zyrtec is an OTC drug belonging to the antihistamine family. You may need to understand the side effects this drug may trigger before starting to consume it.

The generic name of Zyrtec is cetirizine. This drug is widely administered to treat allergic conditions such as itchiness, rashes, runny eyes or blocked nose, hives, etc. Zyrtec plays an important role of controlling histamines; your body naturally makes these substances once it is attacked by a few allergic triggers. Most common triggers of allergies are dander, pollen, mites, dust, etc. You may however need to note that Zyrtec is not used for the prevention of allergic responses such as rashes, hives or a runny nose.

Zyrtec is sold as an over the counter (OTC) drug and also as a prescription medicine. In case you are using it for self-treatment, it is highly recommended to read all the instructions printed on the pack of this drug. It is also a good practice to talk to a qualified medical practitioner if you need any clarifications about the OTC variant of Zyrtec. On the other hand, intake of Zyrtec as a prescription medicine is done as per the dosage instructions of your treating physician.

Side effects of Zyrtec

This drug is likely to trigger a few side effects. The most common side effects include dryness of mouth (due to dehydration), weariness as well as dizziness. These side effects may disappear as soon as your body gets familiar with this drug and its effects. Among children, this drug is likely to cause abdominal discomforts such as pain in stomach, etc. In some people, Zyrtec may result in a few acute side effects such as weakness, excessive spell of tiredness, problems while urinating, etc. Upon sensing such acute conditions, you are advised to talk to your treating physician and pharmacist as promptly as possible.

Dizziness caused by Zyrtec

As Zyrtec can make you feel dizzy you are advised not to drink alcohol while taking this drug. It is also not advised to take intoxicants such as cannabis (marijuana). If taken together with such intoxicants, Zyrtec may lead to an excessive spell of drowsiness. In general, you are not advised to work on heavy machines or perform activities such as driving soon after taking this drug. Those who are habituated to taking alcohol regularly and those who have alcohol dependence are advised to talk to their treating physician and pharmacist to know about the possible risks. For these reasons, it is strongly recommended to minimize the intake of alcohol, or better still, refrain from taking intoxicating drugs or substances.

Due to spells of excessive dizziness this drug can cause, it may interfere with the anesthetic drugs administered prior to performing surgeries. Such interferences may lead to a few additional risks of deep sedation and at times, passing out. It is hence a good practice to tell your surgeon about the intake of Zyrtec prior to undergoing the pre-surgical protocols. Also, those who are likely to undergo a dental intervention need to tell their dentists about consumption of antihistamines such as Zyrtec. In case of dental procedures or interventions, most procedures may involve local or full body anesthesia; as mentioned above, this drug can enhance the effects of such anesthetic drugs.

Usage of Zyrtec by pregnant women and breastfeeding women

The effects of this medication on pregnant women are under study. This drug however is taken by pregnant women only there is an acute need for it. You are advised to talk to your treating doctor about the likely side effects it can trigger among women who are pregnant. Also, if you are planning to get pregnant, you need to ask your doctor about the possible risks of taking Zyrtec. Women who are nursing a baby need to be careful as this drug can pass through their breastmilk. So, women who are breastfeeding may need to take the advice of their doctor and pharmacist before starting their medication plan involving Zyrtec.

Allergies and related side effects of Zyrtec

In very rare instances, Zyrtec can lead to a few allergic reactions. It becomes essential to tell your doctor about all known allergies or hypersensitivity to antihistamines, especially drugs like Zyrtec. These allergies may show up as inflammation of body parts, feeling drowsy, respiratory problems, hives or rashes on skin. Prior to starting a medication plan involving intake of Zyrtec, inform your physician if you are allergic to drugs like levo-cetirizine or hydroxyzine. It is quite likely that some of the inactive or passive ingredients present in this drug may also trigger a few allergies. In general, symptoms of allergies may not last more than 2 days. However, if your allergies persist for more than 3 days, you need to talk to your treating physician. If you are living in any of the provinces in Canada, you need to either call Health Canada or reach out to a poison control center located closer to your home. For residents of US, it is strongly recommended to quickly call 911 or get in touch with helpline numbers of the food and drug administration (FDA).

Possible interactions of Zyrtec with co-administered drugs

This drug may interact with a few other medications – especially while taken together. In such cases, it is likely to result in a few side effects. It is a good practice to prepare a list of drugs you are currently taking. As you create this list, take care to include over the counter (OTC) drugs, prescription medicines as well as herbal drugs. You also need to include drugs belonging to categorizes such as nutraceuticals, dietary aids, supplements of minerals, etc. Above all, once you have shared the list of drugs that you presently consume, never discontinue or change the dosage plan of these medications. If you are making any changes in your current medication plan, your doctor needs to be made aware of them, and may also need to approve such changes.

Among the drugs presently taken, check if your list has cough or pain relieving drugs – specifically, those belonging to the opioid category. For example, drugs such as hydrocodone and codeine belong to this genre. You also need to take extra precautions if you are taking anxiety reducers or sleep enhancers like zolpidem, alprazolam as well as lorazepam. The same level of precaution is needed while taking muscle relaxing medicines like cyclobenzaprine and such other drugs. You need to take additional efforts to read the label / pack for essential instructions. Once you understand that dizziness is a possible outcome or a side effect of a drug, you need to take support from your pharmacist. This caution holds good for drugs like cold relieving medicines as well as other allergy reducing drugs such as Zyrtec. It is almost for the same reason – allergy reducers (antihistamines) available in the form of topical applications – including, creams, sprays or ointment of diphenhydramine – are likely to increase the risks of side effects triggered by Zyrtec.

Moreover, Zyrtec may influence the laboratory readings of allergy testing diagnostic procedures (mainly, skin-based tests); in some cases, the drug has led to display of wrong diagnostic results. It is hence essential to tell your medical team at the laboratory about the drugs you are presently taking, including antihistamines like Zyrtec. Also, this drug is identical to properties of medications such as levo-cetirizine as well as hydroxyzine; you hence need to avoid intake of these drugs along with Zyrtec. Such co-administration can lead to excessive spells of dizziness and may also worsen the other side effects. You need to remember, the abovementioned side effects do not constitute a complete list. This drug may also trigger a few discomforts or side effects that are not listed here. So, if you sense any other side effects, it is a good practice to talk to your treating doctor and pharmacist as quickly as possible.

Precautions to avoid likely side effects of Zyrtec

As the drug may make it difficult to urinate you must tell your physician and pharmacist if you are having any prior conditions related to your urinary tract, especially enlargement of prostate. For the same reason, you also need to inform about any renal problems or hepatic conditions before starting to take this drug. Skin conditions like hives may present an acute problem if the rashes appear blistered or bruised, also, if they show up without itchiness or if their color is not usual. In such cases, your doctor may alter the medication or treatment plan in line with the acuity levels of your skin allergies.

Your health condition, how well your body responds as well as your age play critical roles in deciding the strength of prescribed doses. Owing to this, it is not a good practice to alter the strength or frequency of intake without consulting your treating physician. This drug is available in multiple forms namely, liquid, chewable tablet and as a regular pill. The liquid variant of Zyrtec needs to be taken by measuring it with the spoon provided along with its pack. If you use a ladle or spoon from your kitchen, it is difficult to measure the doses in a previse manner. These liquid forms may have an extra amount of sugars added to them. So, if you are living with high blood sugar, or if you are diabetic, you need to talk to your physician before starting to take its liquid form.
Chewable form of Zyrtec: It is recommended to chew the pill before swallowing.

Last but not least, if you have somehow skipped a dose, never take a dual dose of Zyrtec. It is a good practice to skip a missed dose, and never try to make up for it by taking this drug twice. When you take a double dose, it is likely to trigger a few adverse side effects. Commonly experienced side effects of an overdose of this drug include an excessive level of dizziness, respiratory problems, drowsiness as well as passing out. In younger adults, an overdose may trigger irritation, being restless and other mental conditions such as mood shifts or depression. In case of an overdose, you need to contact your physician and pharmacist on an emergency basis.

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