Cetirizine hydrochloride is the generic name for a prescription and over-the-counter antihistamine medication. Doctors recommend cetirizine hydrochloride for the relief of symptoms associated with allergies.
Cetirizine hydrochloride works by blocking receptors in your body that are sensitive to histamine, a chemical released by your immune system in the presence of something that it mistakenly perceives as a threat known as an allergen.
Because it decreases the effects of histamine, cetirizine hydrochloride relieves the sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose and the nasal itching associated with seasonal allergies such as those caused by ragweed or perennial allergies to household allergens such as dust mites. Cetirizine hydrochloride is also effective at treating skin rashes or uticaria due to allergies.
Cetirizine hydrochloride is available in its regular form and also in a combination therapy that includes pseudoephedrine, which is used to relieve nasal congestion in addition to allergy symptoms.
Adverse reactions to cetirizine hydrochloride include headaches, pharyngitis, abdominal pain, drowsiness, diarrhea, nosebleeds, constriction of your airways, nausea and vomiting. Because cetirizine hydrochloride has the potential to cause drowsiness, avoid operating heavy machinery or driving until you know how the drug affects you.
Because cetirizine hydrochloride is known to cause fetal abnormalities in laboratory animals, doctors restrict the use of the drug in pregnant women to instances where there is no safe alternative to treatment, reports Drugs.com. If you have a history of prostate enlargement, urinary retention or blockages, glaucoma, intestinal obstruction, stomach ulcers or kidney or liver disease, it may not be safe for you to take antihistamine medications like cetirizine hydrochloride, warns the Mayo Clinic.