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Cetirizine is an antihistamine available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that treats symptoms due to hay fever or other outdoor and indoor allergies. It may be written as cetirizine or cetirizine hydrochloride (HCl), but it is the same active ingredient. Cetirizine can be the only active ingredient in an allergy medicine, or it can be found in medicines that not only relieve allergies, but other symptoms as well, such as nasal congestion.

Cetirizine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to label directions. But keep in mind that not all medicines are right for all people. For example, cetirizine can pass into breast milk and is not recommended for women who are nursing.

*Please read the OTC Drug Facts label carefully for active ingredient information for specific products, since some may have more than one ingredient. 

Tips for Medicines with Cetirizine

When using cetirizine-containing medicines, it is important to know that:

  • Drowsiness may occur.
  • You should avoid alcoholic drinks.
  • You should use care when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery.

Do not use if:

  • You have ever had an allergic reaction to cetirizine or to an allergy medicine containing hydroxyzine.
  • You are breastfeeding.

Ask a healthcare professional before use if:

  • You have liver or kidney disease. A doctor may determine that you require a different dose.
  • You are taking tranquilizers or sedatives.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You are aged 65 or older.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • You have an allergic reaction. Get medical help right away.
  • You take too much. Immediately contact a doctor or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

If you have questions about any of the medicines you are taking or if you have any unexpected side effects, talk to a healthcare professional. And of course, keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.

Tips for Parents

  • Talk to a healthcare professional before giving an OTC medicine containing cetirizine to a child under the age of six.

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