What is cetirizine hydrochloride?
Cetirizine is second-generation antihistamine it is used primarily for the treatment of allergies and hay fever. It is sold under the brand name Zyrtec most commonly. It is one of the metabolites of the antihistamine hydroxyzine. Originally it was only available as a prescription medication in the United States and Canada but now it is available over the counter without the need of a prescription. Cetirizine is effective in helping to ease the symptoms of allergies and hay fever due to its action upon the H1 receptor. It is this receptor that is responsible for the release of histamine which causes the symptoms experienced from allergies and hay fever. Cetirizine stops the release of histamine resulting in a decrease of allergy and hay fever symptoms.
Zyrtec contains the active ingredient cetirizine along with several other inactive compounds which are pressed into a tablet form. This tablet can be taken orally by swallowing. Those who cannot tolerate swallowing a capsule can also chew Zyrtec tablets. These tablets contain cetirizine in doses of 5mg and 10mg. Most cases of allergies or hay fever will not require more than 10mg of Zyrtec to ease the symptoms. Zyrtec also comes in a liquid solution containing different inactive ingredients than the tablet form of Zyrtec. The syrup form of Zyrtec contains 1mg/ml of Zyrtec. Since the syrup form contains an aqueous suspension of cetirizine it will be absorbed faster than the tablet form into the system.
What is Zyrtec (cetirizine) used for?
Cetirizine is used most typically for treating symptoms of allergies or hay fever. Allergies are caused by your immune system becoming activated by some sort of compound which is not a virus or a bacteria. For many this may be pollen or animal hair. When your body comes into contact with the compound you are allergic to it will mount an immune response against that compound. A large part of this immune response for typical allergies involves the release of histamine into your system. Histamine causes itching and inflammation. It also causes runny noses by releasing fluid from the cells in the mucous membrane of your nasal cavity. This is what causes the classic allergy symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. The H1 receptor is the receptor which is responsible for causing runny noses and most of the other classic allergy symptoms. Since cetirizine targets this receptor specifically it makes it an excellent candidate for treating allergies. Other antihistamines will not be as selective in which receptors they target and may cause side effects such as drowsiness.
Cetirizine is often recommended to be used in conjunction with other medications by doctors. It is most often combined with a decongestant such pseudoephedrine hydrochloride. The Zyrtec brand markets this as Zyrtec-D. When combined with a decongestant cetirizine has the ability to clear up more severe cases of allergies. Many who suffer from extreme allergies will become extremely congested from their allergies. Often an antihistamine alone is not enough to clear up the congestion. However, when combined with a potent decongestant like pseudoephedrine antihistamines like cetirizine are able to provide adequate levels of relief.