Fexofenadine (Oral)

The symptoms associated with allergies and hives are significantly alleviated by fexofenadine, as it prevents the generation of histamines, which cause those symptoms to start or become worse.

Overview

Fexofenadine is available as an over-the-counter drug, commonly purchased under the brand name of Allegra. Like other antihistamines, it reduces or halts altogether the effects of histamine production in the body by blocking the H1 histamine receptor, which triggers those symptoms. Fexofenadine is valued over some other antihistamines because it does not produce the same powerful sense of drowsiness in users, and that can be important, in terms of activities which are safe to undertake after using the medication.

However, it is still very effective at slowing down or halting a runny nose or constant sneezing, an itchy nose or throat, scratchiness on the roof of the mouth, red and watery eyes, and itchiness on the skin. These symptoms can become extremely uncomfortable in the midst of a full-blown allergy episode, and can even reach the point to where they can almost debilitate a patient. The relief provided by fexofenadine can be one of the most welcome medical solutions for someone experiencing these symptoms.

Fexofenadine is sold in various forms, including a tablet or capsule, as well as a liquid. When taking the liquid form of this medication at home, be sure to use a dosing spoon so that you get the correct dosage, and do not use a household spoon unless you have no choice. If you require liquid to be able to swallow the tablet or capsule form of this medication, make sure that it's water that you ingest, because fruit juices and sodas may decrease the body's absorption of fexofenadine.

Condition Treated

  • Allergy symptoms, Hives

Type Of Medicine

  • Antihistamine

Side Effects

Even though fexofenadine is an over-the-counter drug and not a prescription drug, it still may have some side effects which users will experience in addition to the intended beneficial effects it provides. Although it is relatively common, some patients using this medication do experience an allergic reaction to the medication which is (ironically) treating the symptoms of their original allergic reaction to something else. If you do experience any of these side effects, you should consider them to be serious, because they will compound any symptoms of allergies which you may already have, and it's even possible they can become life-threatening in severity. If you observe any of the side effects listed below after taking fexofenadine, be sure to contact your doctor immediately - it may even be necessary to seek emergency medical treatment.

  • An unusual feeling of warmth or flushing in the face, arms, upper chest, and neck
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Large swellings on the face, eyelids, throat, tongue, legs, feet, hands, or sex organs. These swellings may have the appearance of hives or of smaller protuberances
  • Difficulty breathing, often manifested as a shortness of breath.

Many of the side effects which can potentially occur when using fexofenadine do not really call for any kind of medical attention, since they are relatively mild in nature. For the most part, these side effects will fade away of their own accord as your body becomes used to taking the medication. If it happens that some of these side effects become more pronounced, or they cause you to become extremely uncomfortable, consult with your doctor at the earliest opportunity, so that some plan for treatment can be considered.

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Problems with mobility
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Loss of voice or unusual hoarseness in your voice
  • Back pains or side pains
  • Chills
  • Persistent coughing
  • Congestion of the ears
  • Pain in the joints, especially in the ankles and knees
  • Aches and pains in the muscles
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stiffness in the muscles or the joints
  • Unusually painful menstrual bleeding
  • Nasal congestion
  • Unexplained pains in the legs or the arms
  • Tenderness or discomfort in the cheekbones or around the eyes
  • Viral infections such as flu or colds
  • An unexplained sensation of weakness or fatigue
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Unexplained drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Sore throat
  • Unusual sneezing
  • A buzzing noise or ringing in the ears
  • Swelling around the ears.

Another group of side effects which has rarely been reported by patients is listed below, and if any of these side effects should be exhibited after you take fexofenadine, you may require medical treatment from your doctor.

  • Extreme difficulty with sleeping
  • Abnormal nervousness or irritability
  • Rashes and/or hives
  • Nightmares
  • Hallucinations.

Dosage

The dosages shown below are not intended to be recommendations for any patient to use, because everyone's body chemistry reacts differently with medications. However, these dosages are considered to be standard doses for adults and children aged 18 or under and can be adjusted as needed, given individual body tolerance and effectiveness of the medication.

  • For adults being treated for allergic rhinitis ' standard dosage would be 100 mg orally taken once per day, or 90 mg taken orally twice per day. Tablets should always be taken with water and not with juices of any kind, and the primary medical condition being treated would be seasonal allergic rhinitis, which carries symptoms of itchy or watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, itching of the throat and/or nose.
  • For adults being treated for urticaria ' standard dosage would be 180 mg per day taken either in a single dosage, or two dosages of 90 mg each, with several hours in between doses. Tablets should be taken with a glass of water rather than any kind of juices or sodas. Primary treatment indication is for manifestations on the skin of chronic idiopathic urticaria.
  • For pediatric patients being treated for allergic rhinitis ' at age 6 months to two years, 15 mg should be taken orally twice each day; for patients between the ages of two and 11, 30 mg should be taken twice each day; for patients aged 12 and older, 180 mg can be taken orally once a day or in two dosages of 90 mg, at several hours apart. Patients aged six months and older can take the oral suspension form of this medication, whereas patients aged 6 to 11 years can take the dissolving tablets, or ordinary tablets. Patients aged 12 and above can take the gel-coated tablets with water, and not with any fruit juices or sodas.
  • For pediatric patients being treated for or urticaria ' patients age 6 months to two years should take 15 mg of fexofenadine orally twice per day; patients aged between two and 11 should take 30 mg of fexofenadine orally twice per day; patients aged 12 and older should take 180 mg of fexofenadine either all at once or in two dosages of 90 mg each. Patients aged six months and older should be capable of taking the oral suspension form of this medication, while patients aged 6 to 11 can take tablets or oral-dissolving tablets, and patients aged 12 and above should have no problem taking the gel-coated tablets.

Oral-dissolving tablets (ODT's) must be used directly after a package has been opened, and are intended to be dissolved on the tongue, without chewing and with or without water. These ODT's should be taken on an empty stomach. The oral suspension form of this medication must always be well shaken prior to being administered, and should always be used with a dosing cup provided with the medication. Tablets are intended to be taken with a glass of water, and not with any kind of fruit juices are sodas. A 30 mg oral suspension dosage is roughly equivalent to a 30 mg tablet, so if one or the other is unavailable for some reason, these values are approximately the same.

Interactions

In order to avoid the possibility of fexofenadine interacting with any other medication you might be taking, it's a good idea to prepare a list for your doctor of all over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications, herbal supplements, and vitamins which you currently use, as well as the dosages for each of these.

After reviewing this list, your doctor can make a determination whether or not certain drugs need to be discontinued temporarily while you're being treated with fexofenadine. This same list will be very useful if you have to go to an emergency room for any reason, so that you can show any doctor there which medications you are currently using, so he/she can also avoid prescribing drugs which might interact with fexofenadine.

As far as any medical conditions you might have which would be negatively impacted by taking fexofenadine, the most prominent one would be any kind of renal dysfunction, so if you have this medical condition, you should avoid using fexofenadine.

The list of other drugs which are known to interact with fexofenadine includes all of the following:

  • Nasonex
  • Nexium
  • Albuterol
  • Singulair
  • Symbicort
  • Calcium 600 D
  • Celecoxib
  • Rosuvastatin
  • Duloxetine
  • Fluticasone
  • Salmeterol
  • Aspirin low strength
  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Xanax
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D3
  • Synthroid
  • Lyrica
  • Flonase
  • Lipitor.

Warnings

There are several precautions or warnings which should be observed by patients taking fexofenadine, in order to avoid complications or worsening of any medical condition you may already have. It should be kept in mind that fexofenadine only helps to manage the symptoms of hives and or allergies, but it does not cure them altogether. This means it's important that you continue to take the medication even after symptoms have cleared up and you are feeling much better. Your doctor will be able to advise you on when it is safe to discontinue usage of fexofenadine, depending on whether you are being treated for seasonal allergies or some other medical condition.

In some situations, fexofenadine will interfere with the normal results you might see on allergy tests, so to be sure you are getting accurate results, usage of this medication should be discontinued prior to taking any kind of allergy tests.

When fexofenadine is taken by geriatric patients, extra caution must be taken, since seniors are typically more sensitive to the medication than are younger people. Fexofenadine can be used on patients at least six months of age or older to treat allergies, although this should only be done at the recommendation of a doctor, since there is far less clinical research done on patients of this age. It is also true that the safety and effectiveness of fexofenadine has not been decisively confirmed in any studies which have been conducted to date.

It is not recommended that women who are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant should use fexofenadine, unless there is an urgent reason for doing so, or your doctor has advised it. Animal studies have shown that fexofenadine can impact the birth weight and the development of offspring, although these studies used amounts of the medication that are three times the normally prescribed amount used by humans. There is no controlled research which has been done with human subjects, so it is not clear whether or not human fetuses would be impacted by mothers using fexofenadine. However, the fact that certain situations did produce a negative impact on animal offspring makes it highly advisable to avoid using fexofenadine for humans who are pregnant.

It is not recommended that fexofenadine be used by breast-feeding mothers, because it is known that the drug is passed on through breast milk. Given the fact that there is a potential for an adverse impact on infants before being born, the safest course of action dictates that mothers who are nursing discontinue usage of fexofenadine, or that they continue to take the drug, but do not breast-feed their infant.

Storage

This drug should be stored well out of the reach of both pets and children, ideally in a very high-up location which cannot be reached, even by standing on furniture. It should also not be stored in any kind of pill reminder container, as these seldom are equipped with locking mechanisms that prevent access.

The location where fexofenadine is stored should be away from direct lighting, and not subject to any extremes of temperature, particularly of freezing. Humidity is also bad for the medication, since that can cause moisture to form on tablets, and degradation can then occur. Bathrooms and bathroom medicine cabinets are therefore not good locations for medications like this to be stored.

Unused fexofenadine should be discarded according to recommended procedures given by your doctor or pharmacist, and not thrown out in the trash or flushed down the toilet. Expired fexofenadine should not be taken by the patient, but should be disposed of according to these same proper disposal methods.

Summary

Fexofenadine is an over-the-counter antihistamine which has proven to be very effective at managing the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies, such as runny nose, sneezing, coughing, red or watery eyes, and constant itching. It accomplishes this by blocking the body's production of histamine, which occurs during an allergic reaction.

It is available in tablet form, in caplet form, and in a liquid suspension form which can be used by younger patients who may be uncomfortable about swallowing pills or caplets. The effectiveness of the medication is not as clear on younger patients as it is for adults and seniors, so children taking fexofenadine should be carefully observed, both for tolerance to the medication, and for the effectiveness of symptom management.