Zyrtec for Allergies?
It's summertime! That means cookouts, pool parties, and for some…allergies! In fact, allergies can be a thorn in your side during any season. And dealing with an increase in environmental allergens can make any otherwise fun outdoor gathering miserable. However, there is a solution that just might help with those pesky environmental allergies: antihistamines. These are medications that help to reduce symptoms of allergies. Cetirizine (brand name Zyrtec) is a specific antihistamine to help with environmental allergens. However, there's no such thing as a free lunch, so they say, and Zyrtec may have some side effects and withdrawal symptoms that pose bothersome issues for people taking this medication.
Antihistamines work by stopping the effects of a substance called histamine. Histamine is released in the body when something harmful is detected in the environment, whether it is breathed in, touches the skin, or is ingested (eaten). Histamine is just doing its job by protecting the body from things that could bring it harm, but in people with allergies, the effects of histamine are far from pleasant. Itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, hives, swelling, or trouble breathing are all effects of histamine mistaking something harmless (such as grass or pollen) as a threat to the body. When antihistamine medications are taken, they can stop histamine from being released in response to outside threats, or make a reaction that has already occurred less severe.
Zyrtec is a second-generation antihistamine, which is newer than medications such as Benadryl. The older medications are more sedating and can cause more side effects. The newer medications cause less drowsiness, although some sleepiness may still occur.
Suppose you're planning on going to a picnic at a park. You know the park has lots of trees and plants, and you are highly allergic to these things. The morning of the picnic, you take a Zyrtec pill. However, you're worried that you may experience side effects from the antihistamine. You don't want to be too tired to have fun with your friends! So you read the bottle's label to find out more…
- Common nervous system side effects of Zyrtec include: drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. These are the most commonly reported side effects of Zyrtec.
- Common gastrointestinal (GI) side effects are: dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
- Common respiratory side effects are: sore throat, runny nose, coughing, and nosebleeds.
- In children, the most common side effects are: stomach pain and vomiting.
Zyrtec Withdrawal Symptoms
You had a great time at the picnic. You were a slightly tired, and noticed that your mouth was a bit dry, but other than that, you haven't noticed many side effects. You listened to a recommendation from your doctor, who said to take the medication at night to reduce daytime drowsiness, and that tip has helped a lot. However, you have read online that some people have a hard time stopping Zyrtec and have reported ''withdrawal''-type symptoms. You want to know what the research says, so you ask your doctor.
Your doctor tells you that there is very little in the medical literature about Zyrtec withdrawal symptoms. There was one study (done in the Netherlands in 2016) that studied 12 cases of unbearable pruritus (itching) following discontinuation of Zyrtec. In all cases, these patients had been using Zyrtec for months or years. Every time they tried to stop taking Zyrtec, they experienced unbearable itching. Eventually, they found that slowly tapering the drug (taking less and less each day, over a period of time) allowed them to successfully stop taking it. Results of the study also showed that using steroids helped ease withdrawal symptoms in these patients.
Patients anecdotally report severe itching and hives as symptoms of stopping Zyrtec that they previously took daily. The itching may begin as soon as 12 hours after the most recent dose and can affect the whole body. Many say that this itching is worse than the allergy symptoms that led them to take Zyrtec in the first place. In general, these patients say that slowly reducing the dose over time is the best way to discontinue Zyrtec.
Cetirizine (Zyrtec) helps reduce symptoms of allergies. It's a second-generation antihistamine, meaning it doesn't have as many sedating effects as first-generation antihistamines, such as Benadryl. By blocking histamine release in the body, Zyrtec helps allergy sufferers be in the presence of substances to which they are allergic without as many negative reactions. However, Zyrtec does occasionally have some side effects, the most common of which are drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. There have been reports, through few studies, of withdrawal symptoms in people attempting to stop taking Zyrtec. These people report unbearable pruritus (itching) and/or hives. These symptoms are generally less if people taper, or gradually reduce, their dose of Zyrtec over a period of time.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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Cetirizine: True or False Activity
This activity will help you assess your knowledge regarding the side effects and withdrawal symptoms of cetirizine.
Based on the given scenario, determine whether the following statements are true or false. To do this, print or copy this page on blank paper and underline or circle the answer.
Jackie is 36 weeks pregnant and decides to take a stroll in the park on a clear, windy day. As the wind blew, she suddenly inhaled the pollens that came off from the pine trees. She then suddenly felt an itchy sensation in her eyes and eventually had difficulty breathing.
True | False 1. Jackie's allergic reaction was triggered by the inhalation of pollen.
True | False 2. Cetirizine is the biochemical substance released by Jackie's body during her allergic reaction.
True | False 3. Benadryl is a second-generation medication that is less sedating than the early antihistamines.
True | False 4. Runny nose, hives, and trouble breathing are some symptoms of allergies.
True | False 5. A proper dosage of cetirizine must be followed to prevent common reproductive side effects.
True | False 6. Pollen in this scenario is considered an environmental allergen.
True | False 7. Prutus is a medical term for severe itching, especially of undamaged skin.
True | False 8. Jackie should take cetirizine to relieve the symptoms of allergy.
- False, because the correct statement is: Histamine is a biochemical substance released by the body during allergic reactions.
- False, because the correct statement is: Zyrtec is a second-generation medication that is less sedating than the early antihistamines.
- False, because the correct statement is: A proper dosage of cetirizine must be followed to prevent common respiratory side effects.
- False, because the correct statement is: Pruritus is a medical term for severe itching, especially of undamaged skin.
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