Itchy eyes, runny noses and constant sneezing – it’s easy to understand how allergies can have a serious adverse impact on the lives of those unfortunate enough to be sensitive to the billions of bits of mold, pet hair, pollen, dust and other allergens found so commonly in the air.
Fortunately, allergy sufferers, including myself, have many options available to help. Zyrtec, also known by its generic name, cetirizine, is an antihistamine frequently used to treat both seasonal and indoor allergy symptoms. Zyrtec works by blocking histamine release in your eyes, ears, nose and throat. When you are exposed to an allergen, such as pollen, your cells release histamine in response. Histamine causes the symptoms of allergies, such as runny nose, red eyes, stuffy sinuses, coughing, and sneezing. When no histamine is released, allergy symptoms are reduced or eliminated.
Zyrtec can be used to treat a wide variety of environmental allergies. I have used it extensively to treat my runny nose that starts dripping every spring when the flowers in my garden bloom. It has also allowed me to keep my cat without having to worry about constant sneezing. Without Zyrtec, I likely would have gotten rid of both the flowers and the cat, which certainly would have led to the loss of my wife. So it’s safe to say that Zyrtec not only saved me from debilitating allergy symptoms, but also saved my marriage.
Zyrtec is generally well tolerated in most people and has few side effects. In adults, the most commonly reported side effect is drowsiness. In children it can cause an upset stomach or headache. It is important to note that not all people taking Zyrtec will experience these symptoms. In the two years I’ve been using it, I have not noticed any problems, but as with any medication, your mileage may vary. Zyrtec is approved for use in both children over six months, and adults.
Zyrtec is made in both 5 and 10mg tablets. Usual dosing for adults is to take either one 5 or 10mg tablet once a day. A 5mg chewable tablet is made for children as well as a syrup form, which is given in half-teaspoon doses, also once a day. I have used the 5mg dose and found sufficient relief to keep from having to take the larger 10mg dose, but as with any medication, each person must discover individually what dose is needed. Completing the Zyrtec family of tablets is a combination pill of Zyrtec and pseudoephedrine. Called Zyrtec-D, this formula is meant to last up to 12 hours. It is important to note that the inclusion of pseudoephedrine can cause additional side effects, such as nervousness, irritability, dizziness and increased heart rate.
In the past, you could only get Zyrtec with a prescription from your doctor. This is no longer the case. Zyrtec is now available “over-the-counter” without a prescription. You can find it at almost every major pharmacy.
Despite being over-the-counter, it is important to get your doctor involved in treatment of allergies for many reasons. Allergies can often increase your risk of sinus infections and can make other chronic conditions such as asthma much worse. While I have found Zyrtec to be a simple and highly effective way to treat my particular allergy symptoms, you should work with your doctor to determine if it will be appropriate for you.