Levocetirizine vs. Cetirizine

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  • 0:04 Systemic Medication
  • 0:33 Brand Names and Uses
  • 1:12 Contraindications
  • 2:33 Dosage & Pharmacology
  • 3:47 Special Considerations
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to compare and contrast numerous aspects of levocetirizine and cetirizine. You'll find out how they are similar and what many of their differences are.

Systemic Medication

Whenever you take a medication, that medication is either going to be a local medication or a systemic one. For example, if you have been given a cream, that cream will be placed on one spot of your skin and is intended to have therapeutic effects on that spot. But if you take a pill, swallow a syrup, or are given an injection, then that drug will be distributed systemically, throughout the body.

This lesson is going to compare and contrast the systemic versions of cetirizine and levocetirizine.

Brand Names & Uses

Both of those names are difficult to pronounce and spell out! This is why drug manufacturers come up with brand and trade names that are much easier to spell and sound out for the public.

Levocetirizine (aka Xyzal) is used to manage allergic rhinitis, commonly called hay fever, and chronic idiopathic urticaria (long term hives). This is where a person gets new episodes of hives (urticaria) almost every day for weeks and months on end. Chronic means long-term or persistent while idiopathic means it is of an unknown cause.

Cetirizine (aka Zyrtec) is indicated for allergic rhinitis and urticaria as well.

Contraindications & Adverse Effects

Now we know when these drugs might be used. But what are the contraindications? Imagine a roller coaster ride. An indication for a roller coaster ride is to have some fun! That's the intended use of a roller coaster after all. A contraindication for that same ride might be people under five feet tall. In other words, a contraindication is a situation where someone shouldn't do something.

In this lesson's case, they shouldn't take a drug. Contraindications for cetirizine include anyone who has a known hypersensitivity (allergy) to cetirizine, hydroxyzine, or any ingredient in the drug's formulation.

Contraindications for levocetirizine include anyone who is hypersensitive to levocetirizine, cetirizine, or some other substance in the formulation; has end-stage renal (kidney) disease; is undergoing hemodialysis; or is 6 months to 11 years of age with kidney issues.

Taking a medication when it is contraindicated to do so increases the chances of adverse effects, or negative side effects. In the case of roller coasters, if you were under five feet tall and you were to go on that ride, you might slip out from the harness and injure yourself. In the case of these medications, the more common adverse effects include sleepiness and headaches for cetirizine and diarrhea for levocetirizine.

Dosage Forms & Pharmacology

In their systemic forms, cetirizine can be given as a regular, chewable, or disintegrating tablet; capsule; oral solution; or as a syrup. Levocetirizine is given either as a plain tablet or as an oral solution.

Both medications can be taken with or without food, but it may be recommended that levocetirizine be taken in the evening. Once taken, both drugs are rapidly absorbed by the body. It takes cetirizine about 1 hour to peak in the body and levocetirizine about 30-90 minutes to do so. The exact timing depends on the dosage form that is taken and whether it's taken with food or not. Either way, both medications work for about 24 hours once the dose has been taken.

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