According to the Allergy and Asthma Information Association, 20 to 25 percent of Canadians suffer from allergic rhinitis. Commonly called allergies or hay fever, allergic rhinitis causes a number of unpleasant symptoms, including sneezing, itching, watery eyes and nasal congestion. There are a number of medications available to help eliminate the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, including cetirizine. In Canada, cetirizine is available under the brand name of Reactin or Reactine. Despite its effectiveness, Reactine is not for everyone as it presents several risks for side effects and complications in some patients.
The most common side effects of Reactine are not normally serious in nature and do not require patients to discontinue usage. Approximately 11 to 14 percent of Reactine users report headaches, making this the most common side effect of the drug. Pharyngitis, or inflammation occurring in the back of your throat, is also common in around 3 to 6 percent of users. Abdominal pain and coughing occur in at least 3 percent of users. More than 2 percent of patients who take Reactine experience diarrhea, nosebleeds, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting.
Reactine also has the potential to cause a number of other troublesome, but not dangerous, side effects. These adverse effects occur in less than 2 percent of all users. Gastrointestinal effects of Reactine include, abnormal tooth decay, constipation, indigestion, gas, tongue discoloration and increases in appetite. Some patients experience neurological, sensory or psychological side effects to the drug, such as loss of coordination, confusion, twitching, tingling in your extremities, changes in taste, anxiety, changes in sexual desire, depression and insomnia.
There are some medications that produce unwanted side effects when used in conjunction with Reactine. Because Reactine often causes drowsiness, you should be careful not to mix citirizine with other drugs that make you sleepy as this could seriously impair your ability to remain alert. Examples of drugs to avoid include narcotics, sleeping pills and sedatives, antiepileptic drugs and anti-anxiety medications. In addition, theophylline, a drug commonly used for the treatment of respiratory diseases, slightly increases your risk of developing side effects from Reactine.
In addition to minor side effects and the risk of interactions, Reactine has the potential to cause serious medical complications. Severe neurological side effects occur in rare instances, including seizures, amnesia, fainting and paralysis. Infrequently, Reactine usage leads to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and even heart failure. Some patients experience anaphylactic reactions to Reactine, causing skin rashes, difficulty breathing and even shock. The drug also causes kidney or liver dysfunction in rare instances.
Because Reactine has the potential to cause complications during pregnancy, doctors only utilize treatment with the drug when there are no safe alternatives available. Additionally, Reactine is not intended for use in children less than two years old. Patients over the age of 65 are more at risk for developing side effects from Reactine than younger patients. If you have a history of liver or kidney disease, it may not be safe for you to use Reactine. Since it has the potential to cause dizziness and drowsiness, you should not operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery until you know how Reactine will affect you.