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Allergy sufferers looking for an antihistamine to help them combat itching, sneezing, runny nose and watery eye symptoms produced by histamine, may find relief with Zyrtec. This is a non-prescription brand name allergy medication that contains the drug cetirizine (also the generic name for this medication). Zyrtec is used as a treatment for allergy symptoms and may also be used to treat cold symptoms.

Cetirizine works by blocking histamine, which is a natural substance produced by the body during an allergic reaction. While it does work to relieve allergy symptoms caused by histamine, such as itching, hives, sneezing, itchy eyes/nose, runny nose and watery eyes, it does not prevent hives nor does it prevent or treat a serious allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis). Therefore, if you have a severe allergy and have been prescribed epinephrine to treat allergic reactions, always have your epinephrine injector with you, no matter where you go. Cetirizine is not a substitute for epinephrine.

If you are taking over-the-counter Zyrtec, you are likely to find that it is available in different forms including chewable tablets, rapidly-dissolving tablets, and liquid. It is also sold for both adults and children.

With that in mind, be sure to follow all directions on the product package. If you have been prescribed this medication, follow your doctor’s directions. Do not exceed the recommended dose for this product. If you believe you need less or more of the product than what is recommended, speak with your pharmacist or healthcare provider before altering your dose.

If your allergy symptoms do not improve after taking Zyrtec, inform your doctor as you may require other treatments. Also inform your doctor if your hives do not improve after 3 days of taking this allergy medication, or if your hives last for longer than 6 weeks. If your condition should worsen or turn into a serious medical problem (e.g. anaphylaxis) seek emergency medical help immediately.

As for side effects, the most common include fatigue, drowsiness, dry mouth and stomach pain. If any of these effects persist or become worse, inform your doctor or pharmacist right away.

Be advised that Zyrtec may not be an ideal allergy medication for everyone. You should not take this medication if you are allergic to cetirizine, hydroxyzine, or levocetirizine. You should also make certain you are not allergic to any of the non-active ingredients within the particular Zyrtec product you are taking.

If you have other allergies, have an existing medical condition, are pregnant or nursing, or are taking any other medication (prescription or non-prescription) or supplements, you should first speak with your doctor prior to taking Zyrtec.

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