How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Hydroxyzine belongs to the class of medications called antihistamines. It is used to relieve itching and other symptoms caused by allergic conditions. It can help to alleviate itching due to an adverse reaction to opiod medications. It works by blocking the actions of one of the body's natural chemicals known as histamine. Histamine is responsible for many of the symptoms seen when an allergic reaction occurs. The calming effects of hydroxyzine result from its sedating side effect.
It is also used to manage anxiety and tension caused by situations such as dental procedures or acute emotional problems. Hydroxyzine is sometimes used as part of the treatment of alcoholism. Hydroxyzine is also used to control nausea and vomiting (except in pregnancy).
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
This medication is available as 10 mg, 25 mg, and 50 mg capsules.
How should I use this medication?
For adults, the recommended dose of hydroxyzine when taken by mouth ranges from 25 mg to 100 mg, 3 or 4 times a day.
For children under 6 years of age, the daily dose when taken by mouth is 30 mg to 50 mg in divided doses.
For children over 6 years of age, the daily dose is 50 mg to 100 mg in divided doses.
Hydroxyzine may be taken with or without food.
Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.
This medication is available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms listed here. The forms available for the specific brand you have searched are listed under "What form(s) does this medication come in?"
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Hydroxyzine should not be taken by anyone who:
- is allergic to hydroxyzine or to any of the ingredients of the medication
- is in early pregnancy
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- decreased appetite
- dry mouth, nose, or throat
- stomach upset, stomach pain, or nausea
Although most of these side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- blurred vision or any change in vision
- difficult or painful urination
- fast heartbeat
- skin rash
- sore throat
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual excitement, restlessness, nervousness, or irritability
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- signs of an allergic reaction (e.g., rash, itching, or hives)
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
HEALTH CANADA ADVISORY
June 6, 2016
Health Canada has issued new restrictions concerning the use of Atarax (hydroxyzine) . To read the full Health Canada Advisory, visit Health Canada's web site at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Since hydroxyzine causes drowsiness, you should not drive a car or perform hazardous tasks until you determine that this medication does not impair your ability to perform these tasks safely.
Enlarged prostate and urinary difficulties: Hydroxyzine may worsen urinary difficulties.
Epilepsy: Hydroxyzine should be used with caution by people with epilepsy as it may increase the risk for seizures.
Glaucoma: This medication may cause a slight increase in pressure in the eye and therefore should be used with caution by anyone with glaucoma.
Sedation: The sedating effect of hydroxyzine must be considered when the medication is used at the same time as other sedating medications such as narcotics, non-narcotic pain relievers, sleeping pills, sedatives, barbiturates, or alcohol.
Pregnancy: Hydroxyzine should not be used during early pregnancy. It should be used during later pregnancy only if the potential benefits outweigh the risks.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if hydroxyzine passes into breast milk. Hydroxyzine should not be used by breast-feeding mothers.
Seniors: Seniors may be at increased risk for the sedating and impaired coordination effects of this medication. Seniors should use extra caution, for example, when getting up during the night.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between hydroxyzine and any of the following:
- psychiatric medications
- St. John's wort
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.