What Is Fexofenadine Used For?Fexofenadine has been licensed for several uses in adults and children six years of age and older. These uses include:
- Relief of seasonal allergy symptoms (hay fever)
- Treatment of chronic (long-term) hives and itching, known as chronic urticaria.
At this time, all of the current over-the-counter fexofenadine products are labeled only to be used for treating allergies. However, the manufacturer has received approval for over-the-counter use of the medication for hives. It is probably just a matter of time before fexofenadine products labeled for hives treatment become available.
How Does It Work?When you come into contact with something you're allergic to, a chain reaction begins inside your body. During this chain reaction, specialized cells release powerful chemicals. Some of these chemicals can trigger swelling of the nasal passages leading to nasal congestion (a stuffy nose). Other chemicals, such as histamine, can cause sneezing, itching, and irritation.
Fexofenadine is classified as an antihistamine. It blocks the effects of histamine (hence, its classification as an antihistamine). This can relieve allergy symptoms. However, since histamine is not the cause of nasal congestion, this medication will not help open nasal passages.
Effects of FexofenadinePrior to the approval of fexofenadine in the United States, a number of clinical studies were conducted on over 4,500 adults and children to determine the safety and effectiveness of the drug. These studies analyzed the effects on both seasonal allergy symptoms and chronic hives. In these studies, people taking fexofenadine experienced relief of their symptoms compared to a group of people who did not take the medicine. Allergy relief was measured based on a symptom score that rated changes in the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Itchy nose or throat
- Itchy, watery, or red eyes.
Improvement in symptoms was seen between one and three hours after taking the drug.
For chronic hives, the symptom score measured changes in itching and the number of hives.