Drugs Home > What Is Cetirizine Used For?

Common uses of cetirizine include the treatment of itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and other allergy symptoms. Other uses include the treatment of itching due to hives, which may or may not be caused by allergies. The drug has been approved for use in children as young as two years old. At this time, there are no off-label cetirizine uses.

What Is Cetirizine Used For? -- An Overview

Cetirizine hydrochloride (Zyrtec®) is a non-prescription medication approved to treat allergies in adults and children as young as two years old. The drug was originally available by prescription only, but is now available over-the-counter (see Zyrtec OTC). Cetirizine is also available in combination with a decongestant (see Cetirizine and Pseudoephedrine for more information).
Cetirizine belongs to a group of medications known as non-sedating antihistamines, which means that it is less likely to cause drowsiness. However, some people still experience drowsiness when taking it. Cetirizine is approved to treat the following allergy symptoms:
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Itchy nose or throat
  • Sneezing.
It is also approved to treat itching due to hives, which may or may not be caused by allergies.

Why Is Cetirizine Used for Allergies?

Allergies are the immune system's specific reaction to normally harmless substances, such as pollens, certain foods, or medicines. Allergies can be seasonal or perennial. Seasonal allergies (such as hay fever) occur at specific times of the year, while perennial allergies can occur throughout the year. Allergies can affect various parts of the body, and symptoms are particularly common in the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Nasal allergies (also known as allergic rhinitis) mostly affect the nose and eyes.
Combined with strategies to minimize a person's contact with allergens, allergy treatment can make life bearable for even the worst allergy sufferer. Treatment often includes allergy shots or medications. Cetirizine is a particularly useful allergy medicine, as it is less likely to cause drowsiness, compared to older allergy medications, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl®).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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