Meds and you

27 September 2013

Hydroxyzine

Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine. Antihistamines are drugs that relieve the symptoms of allergic conditions.

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Hydroxyzine is the active ingredient of Aterax tablets (Nappi code: 705462-005, 705470-016), Aterax syrup (Nappi code: 705446-018), Aterax injection (Nappi code: 705497-011) & Neurax injection (Nappi code: 831255-005).

General information
Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine. Antihistamines are drugs that relieve the symptoms of allergic conditions. Besides being an antihistamine, hydroxyzine also has anti-anxiety properties.

In South Africa hydroxyzine is registered for the treatment of itchy skin conditions; short-term use treatment of insomnia and anxiety; agitation; hysteria; nausea and vomiting, as well as alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Although less likely to do so than most other sedatives and anti-anxiety medicines, this medicine can be habit-forming and should only be taken as directed by your doctor, and only for as long as recommended.

For this medication to be effective, it has to be taken regularly, even if you do not notice an immediate effect.

It should be noted that because this drug may cause dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation, driving and any hazardous tasks should be avoided until you know how this medication affects you.

How does hydroxyzine work?
When you are exposed to an allergen - something you are allergic to - your body reacts by producing a chemical called histamine. Histamine causes the symptoms that we associate with allergy. Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine, meaning that it counteracts the action of histamine to help relieve you of the symptoms of allergy. It also has a suppressive effect in some areas of the central nervous system leading to its sedative, tranquillising and anti-emetic effect.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 5
Available as: hydroxyzine is available as injection, syrup and tablets.
What does it do? Hydroxyzine relieves symptoms of severe skin allergies, particularly severe itching. It is also often prescribed for short periods of time to act as a mild sedative and tranquilliser.
Overdose risk: medium
Dependence risk: medium
Is hydroxyzine available as a generic? yes
Is hydroxyzine available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: within 30 minutes
Duration of action: up to 6 hours
Dietary advice: it is advised to take at least 2 litres of water daily while taking this medication.
Stopping this medicine: do not stop using this medication abruptly, as it may cause a recurrence of the original symptoms being treated. It is advised that you decrease your dose gradually as directed by your doctor.
Prolonged use: Side effects are more likely with prolonged use.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have glaucoma
  • you have an enlarged prostate
  • you are experiencing difficulty urinating
  • you have porphyria
  • you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • you have liver disease
  • you have epilepsy
  • you have heart disease
  • you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disease

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.
Porphyria: avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.
Infants and children: use only as directed by your paediatrician.
The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side effects are more likely to occur.
Driving and hazardous work: this medication should be avoided as it may cause extreme sedation.
Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side Effect
Frequency
Consult your doctor

Common
Rare
Only if severe
In all cases
drowsiness
X

X

thickening of mucus
X

X

dry mouth
X

X

headache

X
X

nausea/vomiting

X
X

increased appetite

X
X

weight gain

X
X

abdominal pain

X
X

increased skin sensitivity to sunlight

X
X

palpitations

X

X
loss of co-ordination

X

X
difficulty urinating

X

X
fever

X

X
yellow-tinge to skin/eyes

X

X
blurred vision

X

X

Interactions

Drug interactions

barbiturates increased sedation
benzodiazepines increased sedation
sedating antihistamines increased sedation
sedatives increased sedation
alcohol increased sedation
anticholinergic drugs increased symptoms such as dry mouth, thickening of mucous secretions

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have glaucoma, an enlarged prostate, you are experiencing difficulty urinating, you have porphyria, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, liver disease, epilepsy, heart disease, or if you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disease.

Overdose action
An overdose of this medication can be fatal. Seek immediate emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Adults, oral: 25 - 400mg daily in 3 - 4 divided doses.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 
 

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