Zirtek Allergy Relief - 7 Tablets
How does it work?
Zirtek allergy tablets contain the active ingredient cetirizine, which is a type of medicine called a non-sedating antihistamine. (NB: cetirizine is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine.) Cetirizine works by preventing the actions of histamine.
Histamine is a substance produced by the body as part of its defence mechanisms. It is stored in cells called mast cells, in almost all tissues of the body. When the body reacts to a foreign substance (known as an allergen, eg flower pollen), the mast cells are stimulated by the allergen and release their stores of histamine.
The released histamine then binds to its receptors (H1 receptors), causing a chain reaction that results in allergic symptoms. It causes an increase in blood flow to the area of the allergy, and the release of other chemicals that add to the allergic response.
All this results in the symptoms of an allergic reaction. In hayfever, histamine causes inflammation of the nose, eyes, skin or airways and results in itchy watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion.
Cetirizine works by blocking histamine H1 receptors. It does not prevent the actual release of histamine from mast cells, but prevents it binding to its receptors. This in turn prevents the release of other allergy chemicals and reduces the blood supply to the area, providing relief from the typical symptoms of hayfever.
Cetirizine can also be used to relieve the symptoms of a condition called chronic idiopathic urticaria. This is a chronic itchy rash, similar to nettle rash, but with no apparent cause. Blocking the actions of histamine relieves the itching and reduces the rash associated with this condition.
Cetirizine is called a non-sedating antihistamine as it does not enter the brain, and is therefore unlikely to cause drowsiness. However, some people may experience some slight drowsiness.
What is it used for?
- Hayfever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) in adults and children aged six years and over.
- Inflammation of the nasal lining due to allergies that occur thoughout the year (perennial allergic rhinitis) in adults and children aged six years and over.
- Ongoing itchy rash with no known cause (chronic idiopathic urticaria) in adults and children aged six years and over.
- Although cetirizine is a non-sedating antihistamine, very rarely some people may experience drowsiness, which may affect your ability to drive or operate machinary. You should make sure you know how this medicine affects you before you perform potentially hazardous activites.
- It is recommended that you avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol while taking this medicine.
- If you are due to have any skin prick tests to diagnose allergies you should stop taking your antihistamines at least 48 hours before the tests. This is because antihistamines can prevent or lessen the skin reactions that indicate an allergy, and so can make the test results unreliable.
- If symptoms persist despite treatment, seek medical advice from your doctor or pharmacist.
- This medicine contains lactose and should not be taken by people with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption.
Use with caution in
- Decreased kidney function.
Not to be used in
- Children under six years of age.
- Rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
- The safety of this medicine during pregnancy has not been established. The manufacturer therefore advises that it should be avoided during pregnancy. Seek medical advice from your doctor.
- This medicine may pass into breast milk. It should not be used by breastfeeding mothers. Seek medical advice from your doctor.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
- Dry mouth.
- Stomach or intestinal discomfort.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.